Why We Need Diversity: A Message From Our CEO

August 19, 2017 at 10:32 am

The following message was sent to Bloodworks Northwest staff by President and CEO James P. AuBuchon. Many employees were touched by his message, which Dr. AuBuchon agreed to share here. 

Donor and Tech

Dear Colleagues –

In following current events today, it’s impossible for me not to be disturbed by the harsh tone of public discourse. Although I would not bring partisan politics into our lifesaving work, I do want to offer a few reflections about some of our own core values. Diversity. Respect. They’re cornerstones of who we are, what we believe, how we act, the way we treat those around us, and how we perform our mission every day in Northwest communities.

Diversity brings such joy and richness to life that I am perplexed by those who shun it. I get that differences can make us all feel uneasy sometimes. But staying inside a small comfort zone prevents us from experiencing some of life’s deepest learnings.

Understanding, listening, working with and serving people whose life experiences are differ from our own brings meaning and depth to our lives. If we want to interact with someone who looks like us, acts like us, thinks like us, talks like us… we just need to stand in front of a mirror. But hearing about the experiences and journey of others who arrived from a different path – usually by a combination of chance, place of origin, ethnicity, family, opportunity and events – broadens one’s perspective. It offers us a window into the experience of a different life, shared humanity, and the human soul. It makes us better. And when people truly connect with us, in return, it can do the same amazing thing for them. “Them and us” is a circle, not a line of division.

Not only do we respect diversity, we need diversity to succeed. For example, in supporting everyone (and anyone) who needs our services, we also depend on donors from that person’s community to ensure the availability of the most-compatible component. To that end, we encourage and welcome the engagement of all ethnic communities living in places we serve. We are actively reaching out to them, and by partnering with us, they become part of the fabric of our community.

Likewise, in our workplace we need the talents, knowledge and insights of people from a wide variety of backgrounds to ensure we have the best opportunity to solve the problems we face. Respecting and honoring differences in experience takes us across many dimensions of life. Age, gender, language, geography, history, culture, food, sexual orientation or identity, economic status, skills. Respecting our differences opens the door for everyone’s contribution to be recognized. Sometimes, those with a perspective most different from our own are the very people who understand something that we are missing. They can provide a piece that leads to a solution. For me, the ability to respect others and to recognize their way of seeing the world comes in part from being comfortable with my own logic and conclusions. That, and remembering my own humanity. I don’t know about you, but what I know today is almost all stuff I didn’t know at some point. Having conversations where others can participate and be heard leads to better outcomes. That’s why respect matters. We all benefit. We can help each other be our “better selves.”

I urge you to talk with your teammates about all our shared values – Achieve excellence; Seize opportunity; Think critically; Demonstrate respect; Act with integrity – what they mean to you, and how we can best live them every day as we fulfill our lifesaving mission.

When times are challenging and unsettling, it is our values that will see us through. Holding them close, they will take us to a better future.

Jim