Though precious, diamonds are casually referred to as ice. Four characteristics, known as the 4 C’s, help to explain their value: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat. The cut, or fashioning of the diamond, has the greatest significance in determining its beauty and value. Assessing the color, or lack thereof, is known as diamond color grading. Perfectly colorless diamonds are considered the highest value, while hues ranging between yellow and brown are considered of lowest value.
I’ll pause here for just a moment and let that sink in. Did you make the connection between the low value of yellow and brown diamonds to the parallel low value of yellow and brown people in our society? Also, the category of white diamonds exists, and yet, all things being equal, the more colorless the diamond, the more rare and expensive it is.
Stay with me: Diamond clarity means that the diamond has no internal or external imperfections that can be seen by the naked eye, and most importantly, under magnification. Finally, we all know that the diamond carat, or weight, determines how valuable that bit of a “girl’s best friend” said diamond, or piece of ice, really is.
Here is where I want to take you deeper in my comparison between yellow and brown diamonds and yellow and brown people.
As with diamonds, the fashioning of who we are, revealed through emotional and psychological cuts (and imperfections) related to life events, has the greatest significance in determining our beauty and value. The internal wounds in our lives that people can’t see, unless outwardly manifested as flaws, can often cultivate resilience in people. In terms of diamonds, these inclusions, or flaws, make diamonds significantly less valuable.
Yet, in the Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging space, the word inclusion refers to the value we associate with different people being worthy of having a seat at the table. People from different backgrounds and walks of life bring lived experiences that shape their perceptions, thought processes, ways of being, and approaches to problem solving which serve to enrich organizational culture and the bottom line. These experiences make them uniquely qualified to have a seat at the table.
Now, think about this: Ironically, the term “diamond in the rough” is a backhanded compliment which refers to one as having exceptional qualities or potential, but lacking refinement or polish. Alas, the beauty and worth of a diamond, either in the form of ice or a living, breathing, soul, is in the eye of the beholder. This is where things get really interesting and we’ll follow up with that next time.