We all like quick fixes. Got a rash? Apply some cream to make it go away. If it still doesn’t go away, apply a stronger steroid cream—that will “fix it.” When a child is crying, give him or her a pacifier or a treat to quiet him down. For an older child, hand him a screen—he will be quiet. Problem solved.
But is it really?
I’ve spoken many times about my own health scare nearly 25 years ago when I had hives from head to toe. The doctors gave me Benadryl, Xanax and prednisone. That quieted the hives…until I stopped taking the drugs. Had I not met naturopathic physician Andrew Rubman of the Southbury Clinic in Southbury, Connecticut, who taught me about healing the root problem, I would probably have been on prednisone and Xanax all this time, still suffering from hives yet with even more health challenges caused by the side effects of the medications.
Whether it is our health…our cars…our homes…or society’s ills, we can’t solve anything with short-term fixes that merely silence the problems. Only understanding the root causes and attacking the challenges at their base can solve things properly and fully.
There is a lot of debate right now about racism in America and discrimination in schools and the work force. Among the popular reactions to the problems is forced diversity. President Kennedy introduced the concept of Affirmative Action in 1961 as a way to force diversity and end discrimination in all areas of society. In theory, affirmative action is a wonderful concept, and many people would argue that it has been a success. However, there are just as many people in academia and the mainstream media, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Daily News and more, that say affirmative action, in practice, was only a surface bandage for a deep problem, and that it had backfired because less qualified people were hired for jobs or admitted to schools because of their ethnic or gender profiles rather than their abilities or accomplishment…and both the schools/businesses and the students/employees suffered as a result.
A 2012 article in The Atlantic talks about the concept of “mismatch” and how, “The student who is underprepared relative to others in that class falls behind from the start and becomes increasingly lost as the professor and his classmates race ahead. His grades on his first exams or papers put him at the bottom of the class. Worse, the experience may well induce panic and self-doubt, making learning even harder.”
Skin color…gender…nationality…or sexual orientation is not a qualification or a skill. It is a profile. And admitting students based on their profile may have improved diversity scores, but it did not help those who were admitted succeed.
The deeper problem: An education system that does not produce qualified candidates from all walks of life and all segments of society.
That problem still exists even though we’re still attempting similar solutions—remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different outcome.
A friend works for a global consumer-goods company that announced diversity initiatives that included setting goals to add both women and minorities at assorted levels of the organization, including director and executive levels. Great in theory, but are there enough trained and qualified people in those groups who want those jobs? At that company? In that location?
And when the organization sends recruiters to Howard University to recruit one of its 6,200 undergraduates (about one-quarter of whom are seniors), aren’t they looking for a quick fix in the same “target-rich” barrel that every other company is fishing in? This solution fixes nothing…it merely panders.
If a company wants to really add more diversity among its higher ranks, then it needs help to solve the problem further upstream—in the school systems where underprivileged children are not afforded quality educations or resources and the kids don’t have exposure to the opportunities at companies singing the praises of diversity. There are all sorts of things that these companies can do… just a few ideas off the top of my head…
How about sponsoring technology for a school so the students have better tools for learning…or sponsoring internships for female students or students from underprivileged areas so they are exposed to a business setting at a young age and inspired by working in that environment?
What about creating clubs that bring a company’s mission to economically challenged communities? Food companies could sponsor healthy cooking clubs or car companies could sponsor go-cart race series. Perhaps club members could design their own go-carts based on car-manufacturing principles. Banks could sponsor investing clubs where members are given a small pot of money to invest in stocks of companies they have researched and that are meaningful to their communities.
Each of these clubs could be led by the companies’ employees to create a direct connection between the companies and the communities, inspiring young people and providing them with real-world lessons, mentorship and inspiration to help them pave a pathway to high levels of achievement.
We can’t lose weight with quick-fix diets and miracle pills. And we can’t fix diversity by decrees and platitudes. Achieving a healthy weight and healthy body is a life shift that requires understanding and incorporating the root principles of healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
Let’s look at the long game, not the short one. We need to dig beyond promises and payoffs with forced apologies that place bandages on the social problems but never address the root problems. We can’t just wish for change…or complain about change…or protest about it. If you want change, then be the change.
Sarah Hiner, president and CEO of Bottom Line Inc., is passionate about giving people the tools and knowledge they need to be in control of their lives in areas such as living a healthier life, the challenges of the health-care system, commonsense financial advice and creating great relationships. She appears often on national radio and hosts the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast, where she interviews leading experts to help people be their own best advocates in all areas of life.