When I was asked to write for the diversity issue of Staffing Industry Review, I pondered what diversity means, especially as it relates to staffing. One definition I found from a Google search:

“Diversity hiring is hiring based on merit with special care taken to ensure procedures are free from biases related to a candidate’s age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics that are unrelated to their job performance.”

In short, diversity hiring is a process put in place to ensure decisions are made free from bias. But I’m not convinced that bias is ever erased from individuals’ thought processes, be it professional or otherwise. We are a multicultural, multilingual and multistereotypical society, which leads to many opinions and views of what the world is or how it should exist.

And that, to me, is the real point of seeking diversity — to expose ourselves to others’ thought processes.

Mixed heritage. I’m proud to say that my family background has variations of Mexican, Native American and Spanish culture intertwined. I had the best time growing up, eating some of the most flavorful foods and enjoying family parties with music and dancing indigenous to those cultures. I learned a thing or two from my elders and now as an adult, I insert these lessons into how I work, live and interact with others.

Never has there been a day where I felt that I couldn’t achieve my goals or do a job because of where I’ve come from or because I’m a woman or because of my socioeconomic background. Yes, merit has come into play time and time again. Earning the right to become better and always improve is what’s fostered any success I’ve had throughout my career.

I’ve had opportunities to work with people from all walks of life and experiences. I have embraced much of what I’ve learned from these individuals and have become even more well-rounded — and in turn, have utilized this education to integrate myself into environments and situations that wouldn’t necessarily be my day-to-day, but where I can continue to engage with individuals who aren’t like me — which is great, because knowing only other versions of me would be boring!

Collaborative environment. Many of today’s professional organizations have diversity initiatives in place to foster a “balance” of diverse hiring. But often, it’s about checking the box and then moving on.

And that’s unfortunate, because if we were to take a hard look at what diversity in the workplace really means, we might abandon the terms diverse hiring and/or diverse workforce in favor of hiring for a workplace that fosters collaboration and individual ideas.

Because it’s not about diverse hiring, but about engagement of individuals who possess characteristics that lend themselves to creating, innovating, developing, mentoring — and anything else that drives an organization’s development and growth toward success.

There is no doubt that bias still exists in everyday life. We often apply it to the simplest decisions and toward the life-changing decisions, often unconsciously. But what if, within your hiring process, you remove the term diversity and change it to inclusion? How will this affect your approach to hiring — or will it?

Inclusive is what we envision ourselves to be. Often, we fall short of inclusion as we, as humans, have a tendency to think more narrowly and feel OK if we’ve at least included some and not all.

There’ll always be differing perspectives when it comes to the topic of diversity. There isn’t anything about the term or the topic that is fact-based or statistics that make it a right or a wrong.

What’s important is that, as individuals, our charter is to gather knowledge, listen and learn from others so that we’re consistently making the most-informed decisions about hiring in general.

And maybe, one day, the workforce will be viewed as a collaboration of minds and ideas all coming together to drive a mutual outcome.