BETTENDORF — Over the course of the next decade, the look of America is going to change, says Juana Bordas, the president of Mestiza Leadership International, a company that focuses on leadership, diversity and organizational change.
“We know that in about 10 short years, we’re going to be a multi-cultural nation,” Ms. Bordas said before giving her keynote address Friday during the Greater Quad-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce gala at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center, Bettendorf.
“It’s going to come a little slower to the heartland, but in our major urban cities, whether you’re talking about Chicago in Illinois or Des Moines in Iowa, it’s going to come,” she said.
Ms. Bordas, who specializes in leadership development and diversity training, is a former faculty member for the Center for Creative Leadership headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, and is the author of The Power of Latino Leadership.
The theme of this year’s gala was “Salsa, Soul & Spirit.”
With the Quad-Cities Big Table, a forum conversation to build relationships and inspire collaborative action across the region, occurring next week, Ms. Bordas said she was invited by the chamber to speak about inclusion.
“The Hispanic community is the fastest growing small-business sector in the country, and also we have the highest participation of any group in the labor market, so work and entrepreneurship is on our DNA,” she said.
In America today, she said, “We’re seeing this incredible demographic change. The question for our leaders is, how do we build the multi-cultural society? How do we bring everybody to the table? How do we think about leveraging the gifts of diversity, and not the melting pot?
“How do we say: Hispanics – entrepreneurs, African-Americans – a high sense of community and togetherness, Anglo – entrepreneurship and innovation? How do we look at our different communities, such as the Asian community with its strong emphasis on education?
“How do we bring the gives of America into a different kind of society that reflects the values and potential of all our people,” Ms. Bordas said.
The idea of the American "melting pot” is not a workable concept for the mulit-cultural age, she said.
“In the multi-cultural age, you have to be adaptable,” Ms. Bordas said. “You have to be more fluid, you have to be able to learn from other cultures and you have to be able to respect people for who they are.”
Millennials already identify as multi-cultural and global, she said.
“The more diverse your society, in age, in diversity of function, diversity of ethnicity and races, the more creative and innovative the society,” she said. “Diversity breeds creativity, diversity breeds innovation.”
Leadership, she said, is looking into the future.
“If you’re a leader, you’re thinking 20 years from now,” Ms. Bordas said. “What’s the legacy you want to leave? What’s the next step for the coming generations?
“This is the next step,” she said. “By the time we get to 2030 hopefully the seeds we’re planting today will blossom into a more diverse and accepting community.
“If God wanted us to be the same, we’d be the same. But every cell, every flower, every stem, every person is different and that’s the reality of diversity.”