Managing Diverse Communities Living Under the Same Roof

In any sizable community, people from a broad array of ethnic and sociological backgrounds live in close proximity, sometimes under the same association roof. Managing a community association that’s home to a diverse population poses some distinct challenges—and offers profound rewards for administrators and residents alike.

What is Diversity?

The word diversity has come to be shorthand for racial differences, but true diversity extends far beyond that narrow definition.

“As important as it is to have women executives and people of all races in our neighborhoods, diversity is way, way bigger than that,” says diversity expert Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute, a non-profit organization that strives to promote diversity. “Our use of the word ‘diversity’ primarily to address issues of racism, classism, sexism, and other oppressive 'isms' has blinded us to the fact that diversity is a vast fact of life, deeply embedded not only in humanity but in natural systems and in the very fabric of the universe.”

In more grounded terms, diversity indicates differences of all kinds. A building might be diverse because it has many people of color living there; it may be diverse because there are a number of gays and bisexuals, or strong-minded libertarians, or radical communists, or artists; it may be diverse because there are elderly people on fixed incomes living side-by-side with 23-year-old hedge fund managers. The important point: any difference, no matter how visible or seemingly inconsequential, contributes to the diversity of a building.

“Diversity is difference,” Atlee explains. “It is a natural phenomenon, intimately related to uniqueness and identity. There is a rich world of discovery awaiting us when we are ready to fully encounter our diversity. But first we have to lift our heads above the bustle around us and look at the big picture.”

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