An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Diversity week at 'The Rock': Diversity - from soup to salad

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Crumel L. Mooring
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Equal Opportunity office
Editor's note: Observances to recognize the achievements and contributions of America's diverse ethnic and cultural groups are held to increase awareness, mutual respect and understanding. The Department of Defense supports observances through the development of local programs of recognition and diverse activities. The 386th Air Expeditionary Wing has designated the fourth week in March to pay tribute to the diversity that makes our nation and military strong.

For many years America has been described as the great melting pot; immigrates from all over the world left their native lands to find a new way of life in the United States. But, is the melting pot the right analogy for our society today?

The melting pot theory suggests the idea of America being a cultural soup. As different cultures are introduced to our society they are just added into the pot and in essence assimilate into the American culture.

This idea in our society today suggests individuals strive to have similar morals, values, religions, etc. If this were the case, there would be no need for different churches, stores or even cars. We would all conform to a societal norm generated by an overall need to fit in or assimilate.

Many cultures influence our society today; however, as you remove an individual from a social setting, their original culture, beliefs and ideas remain fully intact. They may have been influenced by others' concepts and ideas, but their identity or culture remains the same. Because our nation now has more of a sense of individuality, the melting pot concept is a thing of the past.

The salad bowl theory is the new term for this age. Imagine for a moment you are at your favorite salad bar. You load you bowl with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, carrots, dressing, etc. All those ingredients come together to make a better tasting and nutritious salad. Unlike the soup in the pot, all the ingredients if taken out hold their same characteristics, while combined make a better product.

This concept works the same way in our workplace. The Air Force is comprised of individuals from every walk of life; various races, colors, religions and national origins. We all come together to make a better organization. Just like the different ingredients enhanced the salad, so to do the different cultures, morals, values and ethics, enhance the work environment.

Diversity can have a tremendous impact on our work environment. Individuals see challenges from a different perspective and are able to solve problems based on their past experiences, morals and beliefs.

Diversity can also be viewed in this fashion. Imagine we are all in a stadium watching a sporting event. Even though we are viewing the same game, our perspective is different based on where we are seated. Some would say the ideal seat is at midfield. In the workplace sometimes looking at a situation head on is not always the best viewpoint. Sometimes we need a viewpoint further away from the field, someone in the "cheap seats" who can see the whole picture.

A diversified workforce is capable of greater success because its workers are seated in different location in the cultural arena and view situations from a different perspective.

This coming week, we celebrate diversity and reflect on the accomplishments of all the wonderful cultures which come together each day to not only make our Air Force a better place, but our country the greatest in the world.