In our society, we often like to put things into categories. It’s easier that way. We can file everything away under neat little headings and never have to worry about it again. But when it comes to diversity, this system just doesn’t work.
People are not black or white. They’re a whole range of different colors, and each one is beautiful in its own way. Diversity is what makes us unique and special. It’s what makes us human.
It’s also not just about color. Diversity is about culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, experiences, cultures, beliefs, and so much more. Diversity is what makes the world an interesting place to live in.
So why do we insist on dividing people into these narrow categories? Why can’t we just accept that people are different?
The answer is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change.
We’re afraid of what we don’t understand, so we cling to our little boxes to feel safe. But in doing so, we’re only perpetuating the cycle of prejudice and intolerance.
And when we finally start to consider all of those diversity factors together, it can become overwhelming. Unfortunately, this is why so many diversity initiatives fail. We try to embrace all of the ways we differ from one another, but we end up doing what we’ve always done. We create segregated teams, give preferential treatment to certain groups, and make assumptions about people based on their appearance. In other words, we treat diversity as a black and white issue – when it’s really much more complex.
But there is hope!
If we want to truly embrace diversity, we need to start seeing it as a spectrum. We need to acknowledge and appreciate all the dimensions of diversity that make up our world. Only then can we hope to create a truly inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected.
Here are three things you can do to start seeing diversity in a new light:
1) Educate yourself about the different types of diversity. There is a diversity of culture, religion, socioeconomic status, disabilities, and much more. By understanding and educating yourself about the different types of diversity, you can become a better ally to those who experience it.
2) Talk to people who are different from you. Listen to their stories and experiences. This will help you to better understand their perspective and see the world through their eyes.
3) Challenge your assumptions. We all have unconscious biases that we may not even be aware of. The only way to challenge these is to actively seek out new perspectives and listen with an open mind.
The great thing about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is that it is like a mindfulness practice. Rather than posting an exhaustive list of diverse group labels on your wall, you can give yourself a break and ease into a new way of thinking.
Continue to reflect on the ways that diversity manifests in your life. Consider your own personal experiences with diversity, as well as the ways that you see it impacting others around you.