In Spirit and Truth is the blog of the General Assembly Committee on Representation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It will feature content written by the sixteen members of the committee, who are teaching and ruling elders from across the country, and our staff person in the Office of the General Assembly, as well as links and articles of particular interest. These blog entries are intended to prompt reflection and dialogue on aspects of expanding representation and supporting full participation in the PCUSA, especially at the assembly level. The ministries of advising, consulting, advocating, reviewing and recommending are vital to the life of the whole Body of Christ. Committees on Representation and/or their functions exists at all councils above session so from time to time we may highlight activities and insights from our sister committees on representation at smaller councils throughout the church. From time to time, guest contributors will provide content. Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Presbyterian Church USA or the General Assembly Committee on Representation.
Author/Facilitator Molly Casteel is an Assistant Stated Clerk and the Coordinator for Representation and Inclusiveness Services. She is a teaching elder (a.k.a. Minister of Word and Sacrament) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.
July 26 marks the 23rd anniversary of a landmark event in our nation’s history: the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Like other civil rights legislation that came before it, the ADA works to ensure a more inclusive America, one where more people have the freedom to lead full lives, pursue their dreams and reach their greatest potential. It also reaffirms the inherent value of one of our core national assets: our diversity.
From its earliest days, America’s strength has derived not from the commonalities of its people, but rather their differences. That’s because diversity drives innovation.
The same concept applies in business. Research tells us that groups outperform individuals − even brilliant individuals − working independently. Even further, groups representing a range of perspectives outperform those with superior, but similar, skill sets. By fostering a corporate culture respectful of individual differences, including disabilities, businesses benefit from varied approaches to confronting challenges and achieving success. That’s why many of today’s most successful companies proudly deem diversity to be a core value.
In his book “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies,” University of Michigan researcher Scott Page summarizes this principle about as succinctly as possible: “diversity trumps ability.” He then goes on to illustrate, through mathematical modeling and case studies, how employee diversity creates higher performing organizations.
Today more than ever, businesses need people with the ability to adapt to different situations and circumstances. They need people who think divergently. They need people who think diversely.
The anniversary of the ADA presents an opportune time for America’s businesses to affirm their commitment to workplace policies and practices − including internships and other work experience programs for young people with disabilities − that welcome the talents of all qualified individuals.
As a leader, I’ll always choose a solution that represents an amalgam of opinions and insights rather than the one that approaches a problem from only one angle. Because in business, as in society at large, diversity drives innovation.
For more information on disability, diversity and inclusion, check out some of these resources:
Kathy Martinez is the assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. The original post was published July 22, 2013, on the Department of Labor blog (Work in Progress).
PCUSA resources on disability concerns were highlighted in a July 2012 blog post on the anniversary of the ADA.