By Marcy Ward, Career Consultant
Really? A company training on diversity and inclusion? Maybe you’ve had that thought, too. I know. I know. Companies have to do it. Employees have to take it. Have you ever thought, “I am an educated, enlightened adult. I embrace diversity. What can this training possibly teach me about inclusion?” I admit to having these thoughts when our annual training came around. Surprisingly (to me) I did learn something.
I started the online training listening with one ear. Of course, I can multi- task during this. I don’t have anything to learn. I just need to check the box, appease human resources and get it done. Ho hum. As I listened to the recording listing examples of “diversity” categories, I wondered if it could possibly list them all? One reason that came to mind was politics. Wait! Keep reading. We’re bombarded with commercials and news casts and we will be until November. I, like many, lean a certain way. Should that be a diversity category? Do I feel excluded when a colleague makes it obvious that they lean the opposite direction as me? Another topic that came to mind was COVID19. Once again, please keep reading. This is something else that we are constantly having to face that has opposing sides. Hoax or real? Mask or no mask? Telecommute or return to the office? A lot of people have strong feelings one way or the other. Is this diversity?
The training modules continued. At one point it mentioned “narrative.” Everyone has their own narrative. Not one is the same. This is when I started really listening and applying it to myself. I’m a new employee. Most people I work with have very little knowledge of my narrative. The same goes for me knowing anything about theirs. Then I widened the circle to everyone; people with political yard signs, folks in public places with and without masks. When I experience either of these two things, I have very strong feelings. (Thankfully, I don’t dwell on them, but they’re there in the minute). That’s when I got my lightbulb! Those two incidents do show diversity and I am not doing a very good job at inclusion! I am letting social constructs affect how I view individuals and I am forming opinions about them without knowing them. Are you still with me? We are in the midst of very intense, very polarizing issues. What I learned is that diversity can cause division. What I am committing to is not to let it. More than ever, we should be seeking unity. In the big picture, who you vote for this year and whether you choose mask or no mask, are of little importance when measured against the legacy of your personal character. I’m going to do a better job at being kind, compassionate, and understanding to everyone every day. Thanks for making me do the training.