Disaster Zone

Diversity Pays Off in Creativity

Do you even care about creativity when it comes to emergency management?

by Eric Holdeman / July 10, 2018

I've written about the need for more diversity in emergency management personnel for a long time. Generally my sense has been that our professional workforce should reflect the makeup of the populations that we serve in our communities. It is an area that I think we need to continue to work hard at in recruiting people outside of the Caucasian and Christian backgrounds, especially in urban areas that have a wide variety of nationalities and religious beliefs. It will allow us to relate to these populations and understand how better to a) communicate risks and disaster preparedness b) make sure that we are presenting information in culturally appropriate ways. 

That said, here is another reason to have a culturally diverse emergency management workforce, see The Edge Effect from the Hidden Brain Podcast. Diversity in the workforce leads to more creativity by the people engaged in work. I'm thinking that some of you might think that creativity is not a "high value" element needed in our profession. It might be terrific for scientists and artists of many types, but we have a cookie-cutter approach to what it is we do in our profession. 

If you are of that mindset, I have several thoughts for you:  

—Declining Federal grants

—The ever-expanding opportunity provided by technology

—Increasing hazards and impacts and subsequent risks for our communities

There are certainly more challenges that we are facing, but "doing more with less" seems to be a good summary of the above list of issues. We need as much creativity as we can muster in the years ahead. By increasing our workforce diversity we can "kill two birds with one stone" (I suppose that old phrase may not be culturally appropriate in some circles). 

To increase our workforce diversity, we cannot sit back and wait for a more diverse group of people to apply for our jobs. We need to be actively cultivating the idea of a career in emergency management beyond what the pipeline is providing today. Each of us can play a personal role. 

What if you went to your local school district and made contact with career counselors and ask for advice for how you can make an approach to a more diverse student membership?  What if you created an intern position for people wanting to explore the career field and let them "dip their toes" in the emergency management pool?

Additional work, yes — but if not you, then who will do this work?