As I sit here curled up in my bed watching past seasons of Glee on DVD (secretly dreaming I could have lived out my childhood in a song – I’m a Millennial, so work with me here…) I’m relentlessly reminded of the insanely diverse and some may say, politically correct, cast this show serves up. The ironic and most astounding factor about Glee – and why I’m ok with their stock photo image – is the script addresses the differences and is anything but PC about it.
Diversity is a word thrown around and met with nodding heads everywhere. Asking, “Is diversity important?” Is like asking, “Do you love your grandmother?” The answer always is, “Of course!” It’s a classic smile and nod topic. We all say it’s imperative to success and of course we support it – it would be career suicide not to, right?
Let’s define diversity – ladies and gentleman it’s 2012 – diversity does not only refer to race or ethnicity (and yes, those are two different things…). Race and Ethnicity are two areas of focus and what most would say are the cornerstones of diversity initiatives. The other go-to diverse characteristic is gender but, what about age, disability, or veteran status?
I say we all take a cue from the cast of Glee (playing that Millennial card again):
# 1 Rachel Berry: The High Potential– A vibrant, up and coming, “made for Broadway” young lady with the voice to match. She’s a high potential with a non-filtered chatterbox decreeing her destiny for stardom. Rachel is openly proud of her two dads, Jewish religion, and is the female lead who would settle for nothing less.
# 2 Tina Cohen-Chang: Cool Under Pressure – The Asian diva planning on being the predecessor to the graduating, untouchable, Rachel Berry. Tina is whoever she wants to be and speaks through her dress moving from gothic to a somewhat “girl next door” look after she started dating fellow Glee member Mike Chang. Even though Tina is shy she speaks when she sings and when put on the spot, comes through.
# 3 Mercedes Jones: The Innovator – An African-American woman with a voice rivaling that of Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce. Mercedes has a spotlight shining on her wherever she goes and is strong-
willed. So much that she decided to create her own chorus group when the original Glee club strayed from its commitment to opportunity for all.
# 4 Finn Hudson: The Team Player – Your classic jock persona without the muscles and smooth charm. Finn is awkward, has almost no rhythm, and no game with the ladies. But, he can throw a football and for that reason scored the heart of miss Rachel Berry. Not to mention he’s also a sweetheart and truly genuine person – always putting his Glee members before himself. Finn is the ultimate team player.
# 5 Kurt Hummel: The Light at the End of the Tunnel – A flamboyant, fashionista finding his place in rural Ohio. Kurt is a daring young man who knows he’s destined for the Big Apple, fame, and a glamorous lifestyle. In a stunning, heart-felt manner Kurt pushes the envelope when it comes to the status quo and is a burst of energy for the Glee cast.
Whether you’re part of the Gleek tribe or not, I think it stands to reason that we can all take a lesson from this primetime platform – Diversity is in.
As recruiters and HR departments everywhere scrounge around for top diverse talent, I think there is still, however, one question to be answered: Why is diversity “in”?
It’s not about winning an award or receiving a bonus for reaching your diversity goals. It’s about making your team stronger. Diversity brings more to a discussion than experiences, industry knowledge, and accolades – it’s perspective. Diversity helps problem solving. It opens up the discussion that doesn’t yield a one-path decision but rather a potpourri of intelligence and wide range of depth.
With season 4 under way Glee has added new cast members to their speckled group. The HR department for Glee has also set up their own management-training program, The Glee Project – a reality TV show aimed at grooming the Glee stars of tomorrow – and their succession plan is in place for this new collection of leaders to take the stage.
Are you working towards a diverse team? If so, whether it is a group of entry-level designers or a Board of Directors– know the reason you’re aiming for diversity.
Nicole Plant is currently the Marketing Manager at Taylor Strategy Partners, a talent acquisition and management solutions firm that’s been in business for over 40 years. She’s a Millennial through and through with a passion for sneakers and fresh brewed Starbucks Iced Coffee. As the glory days of being an athlete, sorority sister and grade chasing student have passed her by, she’s found herself in the world of Talent Acquisition and Management. Meshing her generational point of view with her career at TSP, Nicole created her blog Interview with the Geek and she’s now published on LinkedIn . There are countless posts about millennials written by non-millennials. Let’s give Gen-Y a voice.