Monday, May 18, 2009

Diversity and Inclusiveness: Let’s Really Talk About It!

Today we welcome Jim Hirsh to the Conference Blog! If you will be in Chicago, Mr. Hirsch will be one of our panelists for the Towards Greater Diversity and Inclusion Toolbox session on June 10.

Post by Jim Hirsch:

Want to start a spirited discussion with your musicians, staff and board members? Bring up the topic of diversity within your organization. A year ago one of the musicians from my orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, wrote a blog for about diversity in orchestras that elicited a rash of comments – some of them downright angry. If you are feeling curious (or masochistic) read all 55 of them at the link above.

So why do so many orchestras, not to mention other arts organizations, have so much trouble addressing diversity and inclusiveness? I suspect part of the reason is that despite recent breakthroughs – yes I am referencing our new President – many of us are still uncomfortable talking about diversity and inclusiveness, especially as it relates to race. However, there are productive and comfortable ways of engaging in these discussions that can bring people together and strengthen our organizations.

At this year’s conference I will be joined by Maestro Paul Freeman, Founder and Music Director of the Chicago Sinfonietta, and Andrés Tapia, Chief Diversity Officer for Hewitt & Associates, to conduct a Toolbox Session on this timely and important subject. We will share with you some of our best practices and provide you with a set of tools that can help you begin the internal and external conversations needed to move your organization forward.


Anonymous said...

Diversity is a worthy goal, BUT, you have to have a diverse pool of talented individuals to pull from. That is not always the case and may be mostly the case for many orchestras. Diversity for diversity's sake should not be the goal.

Jim Hirsch said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for your comment. The lack of a pool of talented individuals speaks directly to this issue, don't you think? If this field was more welcoming to minoirty musicians, I'm sure the pool of qualified players would be much greater. I agree that diversity for diversity sake should jot be a gola, but if you attend the workshop you will learn that there are many tangible benefits.