Diversity is a product of systemic inclusion

Published on June 16th, 2014

by Nicholas Hayes, SpinSheet
There has been a lot of recent chatter about creating diversity in sailing. U.S. Sailing gave the subject top billing at its latest conference. On the surface, the theme of the year, sailing’s cause célèbre, seems to be that if America’s skin is darkening, evidenced by the last two elections and demographic trends, so too should sailing’s. This is inarguably true, but let’s not underestimate the enormity of the task ahead.

Search the words “sailing” or “yachting” on Google, and often they’ll come attached to a string with words like “elite,” “club,” or “exclusive.” While there are outliers among us, sailing isn’t starting from a position of authority on the subject of enthusiastically engaging people other than old white men like me to participate.

Diversity isn’t something you brand and then switch on. It’s something you are. You don’t become diverse when you market to people who are different from you and hope they show up. It’s a condition where different people agree to be together because experiences, both in lifetimes and across generations, prove that it’s worth it. It’s not a temporary meeting at a neutral safe harbor. Once it starts, it continues. Once engaged, diverse groups manage the tensions that come from mixing alternate viewpoints. It’s hard to stay together, but truly diverse groups do.

Want women in sailing? Go sailing with women. Want blacks and Hispanics and Asians in sailing? You get the point. Diversity is a product of systemic inclusion. – Read on

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