A top executive at a Cedar Rapids area construction business will speak today (Wednesday) to a meeting of area business owners about how diversity is a good thing. Ray Vasser is a vice-president at Primus Construction, which does home and business design and construction, and he’s telling a group of real estate agents today about diversity, at a conference in Iowa City. Vasser says many people have learned to think of a standard kind of “diversity,” considering race, age or national origin — but he says that’s only one form of a bigger diversity. He says there’s also a kind of diversity within a work force that managers and workers should understand. He calls that “structural diversity,” which encompasses the different ways in which people think, communicate and work, and says understanding it will help leaders coordinate the “collective mixture” that exists in every organization and make it work for the success of the business and the individual. Vasser says a business needs to help its people and department relate to each other, so they can work despite their differences. He uses a statement when he gives these talks, to illustrate how diversity’s a “plus.” Vasser says “I’m not different from you, I’m different like you,” saying that to value people different from yourself is the way to be successful in a career and relate well to others. He says once workers get their awareness raised about people with different backgrounds or cultures, they still need some “tools” to change their behavior. He says he travels the country giving talks on how to get comfortable with diversity and realize its value. The Iowa City Area Association of Realtors sponsored today’s conference.
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