Immigration Heritage Month: Strength Through Diversity
By Karen Henry June 28, 2023
Immigration Heritage Month is a yearly celebration in the United States that honors the contributions and experiences of immigrants.
Since 2008, in the United States, we have been formally recognizing and celebrating the immeasurable impact immigrants have on our economy, society and culture by designating June as Immigration Heritage Month. Our country, frequently referred to as a “melting pot”, has a rich history of diverse immigration and cultural assimilation where people from different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds meld together into a cohesive whole. In essence, our diversity is what gives us strength as a nation.
From a corporate perspective, we must derive strength in the same way by not only welcoming but also celebrating team members of different ethnicities and countries of origin. When we come together in the workplace to achieve goals, plan projects and pitch ideas, we need to tap into those differences and capitalize on them.
When we encourage and facilitate the sharing of ideas and curiosity among colleagues, we foster a corporate culture in which one person’s idea is the catalyst for others’ ideas and the result is a rich, unique process, service or product. This process is called divergent thinking and it is enriched immeasurably when those ideas come from people of different cultures.
Although we are already benefiting from our current diversity of thought, we also need a continuous and steady influx of even more diversity so that we build strength through differences and become a genuine representative extension of that ‘melting pot’ reputation the country we all love is famous for.
At Wheels, we are proud of the diversity among our team members including immigrants. Claudine Lewis, Director of Accounting, moved to the US from Jamaica when she was ten. The journey for her family was not an easy one. Her parents had to take jobs misaligned with their skill sets and abilities to contribute. While conceding they did it for the opportunities, she says, “it would be a disservice to not acknowledge the struggles that immigrants do face and the sacrifices they make to benefit from those opportunities many of us take for granted.”
Claudine shares that the Jamaican motto inscribed in the Jamaican coat of arms is, “Out of Many, One People” which means for Jamaicans, despite their own diversity, they are one unified people. As organizations in the fleet industry, we can and should embrace Immigration Heritage Month by proactively seeking out and recruiting from diverse groups including immigrants. They have so much to offer in terms of perseverance and resilience in addition to different and unique perspectives. This inclusion will undoubtedly unify us and make us stronger.
This article originally appeared in AFLA’s Fleet Insight.