It’s a word that has been thrown around a lot.
It has become a concept that can be pretty loaded.
It’s been used to criticize, organize, clarify, confuse, and conflict.
Each of us has our idea of what it means, of what it does, of how it impacts us, and some awareness of the baggage we’ve acquired along the way.
For me, diversity is:
The uniqueness of individuality that is used to group people together;
language, ethnicity, age, ability, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, sexual identity and orientation, physical appearance, religious perspective, political ideology, learning style, communication style, life experience, and more!
These categories become the file folders by which we identify people.
Unfortunately, these same labels often carry judgement.
Our implicit bias finds us placing people in boxes, virtually without awareness, and making assumptions. Our explicit bias declares assumptions as reality.
Many of us declare diversity as a gift (as well it is!).
That doesn’t mean we are without our implicit bias based on those diversities. It’s the nature of implicit bias; those unconscious beliefs, behaviors, and integrated thought patterns we’ve picked up in our social conditioning (that’s a different post, however).
The goal here is to discuss how the idea of diversity is integral to us as individuals, in relationship, and in organizations.
Honoring how important it is to avoid dividing people based on diversity is the first step. Yes, we ultimately want to be able to celebrate the strengths and opportunities that each brings to the table. We set our sights on being able to use those strengths to build a community where everyone feels and knows they are welcome, equal, respected and belong.
Yet, how do we get there?
If it was simply about education and awareness, the diversity training field would have had a lot more progress over the last four or five decades.
The reality is, it isn’t working.
Look at where we are.
Open discrimination, violence, hatred… and many who are seeking to increase ways to make it legal and acceptable to continue those trends.
What happened to valuing diversity?
There’s a lot of research that supports how diversity actually improves the financial indicators for businesses and organizations simply by improving employee satisfaction and engagement (You can look at some of the research here).
The key to getting to that point where diversity serves us – as individuals and organizations – is through the implementation of tools and strategies.
It is through changing how we think, believe, and behave that we actually change organizational and social culture.
Oh yeah! We are back with “it all begins with me.”
Diversity begins with me.
Honoring diversity begins with me.
Change begins with me.
Is that the dead horse we are beating? (It all begins with me)
Look forward to your thoughts!
Leah is the co-owner and Executive Director of With Respect, LLC; an organization that delivers diversity tools to individuals and organization to ensure equity and respect for all. Check out their website at http://with-respect.com