As chief mate I took people from all walks of life, many were transferred in because the company knew I wouldn’t say no, and that other chief mates would.
We had a few fires and the two best were both “John’s rejects”. One was previously a crane operator, we had to spend a lot of time “retraining” him as to how we handled lines and such but he was willing to learn. During the fire, he got us access when nobody else could. He moved some heavy gear for us too with the flames licking at his gear.
My other MVP was a supermarket deli slicer. WTF could a deli slicer possibly know about fighting fires? In truth the answer was nothing. He learned nothing about fires from working at a supermarket… but the fire that day was the least of our problems. The big problem was managing a few pissed off electricians who refused to shut down ventilation and breakers. Man did this guy know how to manage angry people!
What does this have to do with the color of a persons skin? Nothing and everything.
One of the above mentioned people happened to be black from a bad ghetto. Why should that matter? Let me tell you it did! He had seen fire up close and personal many times as a kid. He had invaluable experience that nobody else did.
That’s the thing about diversity. You don’t know a guys life story, at least not the grittiest parts, you don’t know how he looks at the world but managing people and operations is all about looking at problems from different angles.
That’s why diversity is important.