A World Without Racism is Inclusive
Inclusion vs. Diversity
The terms “inclusion” and “diversity” are often used together as interchangeable terms in the professional environment. It is how companies and schools highlight and emphasize their values of being inclusive to all communities regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical and mental disabilities, and more, but what exactly are the differences between the two terms?
Diversity can at times bring in a negative connotation as the term emphasizes differences rather than highlighting commonalities. Diversity refers to the composition of the group, community, or workplace and its demographics. Diversity is not the same as inclusion, despite the two terms sometimes being used interchangeably. Diversity can be easily shown, but inclusion is what’s challenging to achieve and needs to be valued. For example, a company with a diverse culture aims to have employees with different genders, races, ethnicities, and so on in a somewhat proportional manner. However, diversity forces labels on people and causes them to be categorized in specific groups, which in turn reinforces stereotyping that can ultimately lead to toxic and dysfunctional environments.
Inclusion takes a step further in embracing different perspectives and cultures and as a result, enables diversity to thrive. Inclusion requires every individual’s contributions to be valued and recognized, and for all people to have the same opportunity as everyone else. When every person in an organization feels like they belong regardless of their identity, inclusion is achieved. More often than not, inclusion is invisible but yet very important.
People often focus on increasing diversity without the intention to focus on the necessary foundation that enables diversity.
The focus on diversity often ignores the fundamental need for inclusion. Simply because there are people of color in an organization does not mean they are given equal opportunities and feel like they belong. Inclusion is not possible when companies treat people merely as “diversity hires,” who are there just to fill a quota. Inclusivity should not be viewed as the difficult task that society and companies perceive it to be. Here are some ways to start being more inclusive in our everyday life:
- Mindful communication
The first step towards creating an inclusive environment is to listen to people – regardless of whether you agree with their opinions or not. It is important to be attentive when it comes to sensitive topics and avoid interrupting the person who is sharing their personal experience.
- Challenge stereotypes
Unconscious and implicit biases all stem from societal and cultural influences. By actively targeting those beliefs, it can help prevent judgmental instincts that affect the interaction.
- Be proactive in educating yourself on the issues
A simple Google search, YouTube video, or news article can make a difference in how we assume and perceive things. By setting aside time every day and taking the step to educate ourselves on national issues and talking to someone about them can better our understanding of the dynamics of marginalization.
Listed above are just some of the many ways through which inclusion can be improved upon in our daily lives. Every individual sees the world differently, understanding these differences and making the necessary changes is paramount to creating a better world – one that is inclusive, diverse, and equitable.