I am applying for an accounting position at a local college, and the application requires I write a diversity statement. I have to answer the following:

In a separate statement, address how your skills, experience and education have prepared you to serve and meet the needs of a diverse student/staff population.

To me, diversity means multi-cultural, however, answers to several related questions on this site tend to point to socio-economic diversity. As a white, male, accountant, how do I answer this?

Below you will find my rough outline with a few personal items about myself.

  1. Skills -I speak a little spanish - not fluent, but enough to play soccer, order food, and flirt with women.
  2. Experience -worked as a tax auditor for one of the poorest counties in the state, where most people, including myself, were considered “low income”. -The County had a significant Native American population, and I regularly dealt with tribes who owned casinos within the county.
  3. Education -Attended diverse, public schools in Los Angeles. -Borrowed money to attend ultra-liberal university, whose motto is: “Exploring Cultural Identities & Raising Global Consciousness”.
    • Had a bi-lingual graduation ceremony at the university.

This question seems odd to me, since growing up in LA taught me you either embrace diversity or get the **** kicked out of you. Am I on the right track here? I have plenty of "diverse" and "low-income" experiences, but don't want to appear "hood" or unprofessional. For example, should I mention witnessing the race riots when I was a child? What would be an acceptable answer for an older, presumably white, middle-class manager, considering I am a white male who plays up his strengths in his resume/cover letter?

In particular, I'm having trouble relating my job skills to this question.

  • 4
    Diversity also includes gender, gender identity and sexual orientation. – Jane S Jun 3 '15 at 3:32
  • I realize these are not good points, which is wny i'm asking for help how to answer this. i have yet to get a constructive answer, so i'll probably just delete the question in a bit. At this point i'm considering not applying for this job if this is the sort of thing i'll have to put up with. – okayGraphics Jun 3 '15 at 15:29

A diversity statement is primarily intended for you to state your tolerance, acceptance and respect for people of different cultures, values, religions, gender and sexual preferences.

Stating that you "speak a little Spanish" almost sounds kitsch, like saying you once met a Spanish person. Your comment then about "flirting with women" is outright inappropriate and would put your application straight in the bin with me (as a female).

What you want to impress on the reader is that you accept that people are different, and those differences are to be celebrated. Trying to give examples feels like a token gesture. People are people, and whatever their background (including socio-economic circumstances) does not have any impact on the fact that everyone deserves respect.

  • 2
    +1 for highlighting what kind of reaction could cause such a sentence. Please keep in mind that sexism could be some (if not the only) reason to ask for a diversity statement. If you need to explain it, you could say that you speak "enough for a casual conversation" but you never had any chance to use professionally. – Trickylastname Jun 3 '15 at 18:22
  • 3
    I object to labeling "enough Spanish to flirt..." as sexist. It's inappropriate and doesn't leave a good impression, but what exactly is sexist about it? Would it be less objectionable if he had said "flirting with men" or just "flirting"? Not every inappropriate thing a straight man utters is sexist, and applying that label willy-nilly dilutes it's impact. – ColleenV parted ways Jun 3 '15 at 22:31
  • @ColleenV I see your point and am quite happy to change the word from "sexist" to "inappropriate". – Jane S Jun 3 '15 at 22:33

I would go with something like this:

"I was brought up in an environment in which embracing diversity was instilled early. I have successfully worked with clients and supervised staff from a wide range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. I went to a bi-lingual college and have worked closely with several Native American tribes."

  • 2
    So if you were brought up in a rural area with no immigrant population then the college's diversity policy would discriminate against you ? – NobodySpecial Jun 4 '15 at 0:30
  • 2
    If you have never interacted (or been prepared to interact) with anyone of a different racial or socio-economic background then yes this would discriminate against you. However this sort of discrimination is allowed so they are fine using it. – Myles Jun 4 '15 at 16:07

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