Diversity and Inclusion are important concepts in any business or Organization however this concepts come with other factors, ideas or notions that sometimes distort our perspective. So, what is diversity? what is inclusion? What is the relationship between diversity and inclusion?
Diversity encompasses all characteristics experiences and cultural influences that make each of us unique individuals. In a workplace set-up diversity can be categorized as Internal, External, and situational. Diversity could be race, ethnicity, religion, education, talent, mental status, parental status, job level and the list goes on and on.
Inclusion on the other hand occurs where everyone has an opportunity to contribute and fully participate in creating goal-oriented success. Inclusion is creating an environment where each person is valued and respected for his or her distinctive skills, experiences and perspectives.
Therefore, Inclusion is the bridge that takes one from tolerating the diversity of others to celebrating that diversity.
When talking about Diversity and inclusion you can never miss out the word stereotype. Most of the time our ability to understand the differences can become clouded by prejudice or stereotypes. Majority of us know the potential destructive power of prejudice but not so much for stereotype. So, What is stereotype really?!
Stereotype is a fixed commonly held generalization of a group of people or things. Stereotype occurs through a direct experience to which we label word or phrase to a thing, an individual or a group of people. From young ages, humans form stereotypes about people, places and things. Stereotypes can be useful when they provide quick identification of people, places and things which may be beneficial for our survival, they can evoke difficult issues that often need to be addressed. The most damaging aspect of stereotype is that they ignore the uniqueness of individuals by painting all members of a particular group with the same paint brush. When stereotypes are used incorrectly they can be; harmful, affect your judgement, lead to discrimination, lead to violence, perpetuate social prejudices and inequality.
Serving at the international service department at American red cross has made me interact with a diverse group. I work with more than 100 National societies, this is quite a diverse group that speak different languages, have different cultures, different education systems and different religions just to mention a few. I have learnt to appreciate this kind of diversity. My host organization emphasizes the importance of diversity and inclusion and I believe this should be essential organization goals.
In conclusion, we should not allow stereotypes to deviate other people’s work. Organizations need to be committed to diversity and inclusion by creating and maintaining a diverse high performing workforce that reflects all communities we serve through cultivating a collaborative, inclusive and respectful work environment that empowers all contributors.