In business, diversity and inclusion is overused and nearly meaningless. It’s a problem the faith community could help solve. But we’d have to recognize our ticket in.
The consulting firm Deloitte reports a reality gap between what CEOs claim about diversity and inclusion and what their company does. Too many CEOs fob off their responsibility to the CHRO or chief diversity officer. HR is where good ideas go to die.
We forget that diversity and inclusion is a means to an end. It’s not the end game. Flourishing is. If the faith community recognized this, they’d see this is our ticket in.
Some do see it. A friend of mine has been thinking about this issue more deeply for a few years now and he and his wife have been searching for fellow travelers (they own The Human Flourishing Project domain, but it’s not live yet). He’s a Christian with 30 years of experience in building and growing innovative life science technology businesses. An entrepreneur, he currently mentors young entrepreneurs and small business owners through several novel initiatives launched at The Catholic University of America (Washington, DC). We met at one of our evening events here at Clapham House and hit it off. Now we seek to collaborate on a broader set of ideas.
I also know a pastor who gets flourishing. I met him eight years ago and we hit it off. He now heads a network of pastors seeking the flourishing of their cities. We seek to collaborate, helping pastors discover a proven model for flourishing.
The model is based on love. Love is seeking the wellbeing (flourishing) of others before ourselves. The Judeans forgot that. God exiled them to Babylon, where he told the nation to “seek the flourishing of the city, for as they flourish, so shall you” (Jer. 29:7). Modern translation: if your city isn’t flourishing, your church isn’t flourishing. Only the sons of Judah “got” this, however, collaborating with city leaders. They translated the faith by “studying the language and literature of the Babylonians” (Dan. 1:4).
Early churches did this. Asian churches collaborated with other faiths writes church historian Philip Jenkins. Egyptian churches translated the faith, recognizing collaboration required putting “the Christian faith in the language of the ordinary people.”
The Clapham Sect did this. It was collaborative, recommending the “bringing together all men who are like-minded, and may one day combine and concert for the public good.” Clapham was an entrepreneur and innovator-led lab, collaborating with people of faith, differing faiths, and no faith—translating scriptural ideas into images accessible to all.
My wife Kathy gets this. She’s a reading specialist in the public schools here in Annapolis. Her school is over 80 percent Hispanic. In seeking to raise reading and comprehension scores (i.e., human flourishing), Kathy helped form a collaborative project a few years back. It included people of faith, no faith, and differing faiths. Their project was inclusive yet diverse because faith wasn’t the ticket to get in. Flourishing was.
I’m obviously not opposed to faith, but faith is based on trust and trust is collapsing. In a post-Christian world, it’s a turn-off to many, especially millennials. They distrust just about everything—especially institutions and organized religion. When we lead with faith (as in “faith and work”), those in the wider world are less likely to be attracted. Our ministries will be less diverse and less inclusive. Not good.
Seeking to build flourishing cities is a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). BHAGs require big bucks. Catholic U raised $50 million to launch its business school. David Brooks recently described how he’d invest a billion dollars to change the world.
Invest is the right word. The better model is an investor-return approach funding hands-on, entrepreneur and innovator-led, problem-solving city labs around the world. Phoenix learns from Fallujah, and vice versa. Christians collaborate with people of faith, no faiths, and differing faiths. Clergy get a seat at the table, learning how to assist in flourishing by learning how to translate Bible into boardroom language. And The Human Flourishing Project domain could go live, inviting anyone interested to join a lab. It could happen, since everyone has the ticket in—flourishing.
 Philip Jenkins, “When Jesus met Buddha: Something remarkable happened when evangelists for two great religions crossed paths more than 1,000 years ago: they got along,” The Boston Globe, December 14, 2008.
 Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia (New York: HarperOne, 2008), p. 35.