The Essential Diversity Mindset by Soo Bong Peer offers a transformative approach to diversity – as a mindset, not as a formula. Soo poignantly depicts, through personal experiences that span cultures, time, places, and businesses, the human dynamics that connect and divide people. The book speaks about the intricacies that underlie the unintended consequences of America’s years of diversity efforts – racial labeling, political correctness, distrust, and anger that are tearing the country apart.

The Essential Diversity Mindset addresses fundamental questions: Why are racial tensions in America on the rise in spite of the great deal of attention that has been given to promoting diversity for decades? What is diversity in an environment that is increasingly becoming more multiracial and multicultural? What needs to change?

Human Connection, Not Labels

Soo’s book presents alternate ways of looking at and thinking about race, ethnicity, and diversity beyond the realm of America’s prevailing views. Soo asserts that it is our shared humanity that connects us – not ideology, laws, or political correctness. No matter how different people might look or speak, we all have the same basic human needs and desires, regardless of culture, race, or socioeconomic class.

This is the first book to argue that ubiquitous racial labeling is a key systemic bias that has contributed to racial divides. Seeing and labeling people based on race, ethnicity, or skin color has become such an integral part of America’s mental construct that we don’t even think about it or consider it to be a bias. In many ways, this is a natural progression of well-intentioned diversity programs implemented in the name of inclusion and integration. However, by identifying ourselves or lumping others into narrowly defined categories, we erase the person behind the label, split ourselves into groups, and ultimately create more distance than connection.

The Essential Diversity Mindset illustrates how labeling people based on race or ethnicity reinforces divisions, as opposed to fostering integration. Embracing human connections—not highlighting differences—is the foundation for building a world of pervasive diversity, where the common essence of our humanity starts to blend.

A Different Path

Determining the best way to nurture inclusion is one of the most vexing issues facing every organization, and our nation as a whole. Soo stresses that the need to look at diversity in a different light is paramount; we must see outside of our programmed ideals, paradigms, and compliances. Measures created in the past that no longer produce desired outcomes must be reassessed within the context of the present.

Soo maintains that acceptance of diversity cannot be forced; the way that people look at, think about, and act toward differences must be voluntary. The Essential Diversity Mindset offers readers an opportunity to reflect on where their own thoughts and attitudes come from. 

Soo makes the case that we need to consider diversity policies that infuse human emotion, behavior, and psychology in order to nurture elements that connect us while reducing those that divide us. In this era of unhealthy partisanship and political correctness, The Essential Diversity Mindset urgently speaks about our hunger for leadership and systematic changes that can help move us toward unity and voluntary inclusion.

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