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Diversity is Not in My Vocabulary

I saw an interview Dan Rather did with Aaron Sorkin, my Aaron Sorkin, the best writer of my generation (imho), where he was asked about the criticism around the lack of diversity in his characters. He said he doesn't think about color when he's casting - he thinks about the right actor for the character. He used as an example his first choice for President Bartlet in The West Wing: Sidney Poitier. He said he wanted him not because he would have been a black president (keeping in mind the choice was years before Barack Obama came on the political scene), but rather, "Can you imagine seeing him in that role?" When my daughter was four she had a friend in school who happened to be black. When my mom was asking her to describe him, his color was not a distinguishing factor. His humor was. His height was. His association with another guy, Jake, was. But color? Not so much. It saddened me to wonder when race might enter her adjective vocabulary. I get that when it comes to choosing people for positions, opportunity must be equal before diversity awareness can take a backseat. I do get that. That we need equal opportunity amongst both the choosers and the “choosees".

Conversely, can we be inclusive without prejudice? And can a true desire for the very best of the best result in inclusion? That is my goal at Blue Shoe. Bring in the best. Gender? Color? Educational background? Not so much. Show me who you are and what you think of what we do and how you can elevate it through your dedication, and I could care less about the rest of it. I'm a small business owner, and I choose to hire based on gut. I am trying - not always successfully - to enlarge my pool of potential hires. To ensure I haven't missed people who just haven't crossed my path. That's my goal. No lean in, up or around for me. Just exploring ideas and beliefs and connecting to those that challenge me and mine. As for Sorkin? More power to you, Mr. S. Continue to aim for the best. But when it comes to that hiring pool, make sure the pool from which you choose is an infinity pool. That's our mandate.

--Christine Merser, Blue Shoe Strategy

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