Victor Johnson, Career Facilitator
April is Celebrate Diversity Month. Recognizing and honoring the diversity that surrounds each of us is the reason it was started in 2004. It is hoped that during this month people will have the conversations that can give us a deeper understanding of each other.
So what do I do?
I volunteered to do the blog on this topic. Almost immediately I started wondering why I volunteered. We’ve had a blog before on Diversity and Inclusion. Many businesses and organizations have training on Diversity and Inclusion as part of the onboarding process and/or on an annual basis. During the training you learn salient points about why diversity is beneficial in the workplace:
- It builds a great reputation for the company
- Leads to increased profitability and opportunities for workers
- Diversity allows for unique perspectives and ideas.
So what more could I add? Then it occurred to me that an understanding of diversity, in the trainings I have received at every job I had, is usually approached from the aspect of being in the majority. The trainings suggest you approach a person in the minority to learn about their beliefs, customs, and history. However, learning is a two-way street, a give and take of ideas, beliefs, and narratives. So in the celebration of diversity, it is just as important for someone in the minority to approach someone who is in the majority and learn about them. No matter where you may be in the balance of hegemony, celebrating diversity is a learning process and about not making assumptions.
In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz wrote,
“Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
Do you have the courage to ask questions? If you do, do you also have the courage the listen to the answer without judgement? Celebrating diversity can be as simple as talking to your neighbors to find out about them. Celebrating diversity is not finding people who look like you and think like you. I believe it is the courage to respect someone who is not similar to yourself. Respect does not require agreement, it is an understanding that those around you, not matter where they are from, what they believe, what their customs are, how they look, or who they love, are just as human as you. Respect is about learning – if you have the courage. The more you learn, the less you make assumptions that lead to biases and bigotry. Learn about the human beings with whom you share this planet in the hope that it will lead to understanding and peace.