Diversity encompasses all the characteristics, experiences and cultural influences that make each of us unique individuals.  The differences that make us diverse can be:

  • Internal – meaning dimensions with which one is born 
  • External – dimensions that can change over time without our control
  • Situational – which encompasses dimensions that can change based upon one’s life choices Combined, these dimensions include, but are not limited to: race & ethnicity, age, and marital or parental status.

We do have other examples of Diversity –appearance, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression and gender identification, family experiences, physical and mental abilities, veteran status, seniority or tenure, language, geographic location, education, work experience, economic status, type of employer organization, job classification, management status, field  of  practice, volunteerism, political affiliation etc.

Understanding diversity is just one part of building the cultural competency skill.  It is also imperative that we understand the concept of Inclusion.  For further explanation, Cultural competency can be defined as having the knowledge, awareness and sensitivity to effectively understand, appreciate and interact with persons from cultures and/or belief systems other than one’s own; and to use these abilities to respond to the varying expectations of clients, customers and co-workers of diverse backgrounds.

Inclusion occurs in a workplace where everyone has an opportunity to contribute and fully participate in creating goal-oriented success and where each person is valued for his or her distinctive skills, experiences and perspectives.

The principle of inclusion works where it is supported by:

  • Committed leadership, Organizational norms and values, and Policies and procedures that promote a culture where value and respect are consistently demonstrated between all team members and towards the people served

This here is the practice of inclusion, which is required for organizations to become culturally competent.

Diversity and Inclusion are more than just “the right things to do”. Diversity is a business imperative in a rapidly changing and interconnected world. Being a diverse organization will help you make your organization a more competitive employer.  

Inclusion is the engine that drives us to better understanding of, and compassion towards, others; to fully leverage contributions of all.

Application of these two principles should result in creating, for you, a work environment where individuals treat each other – and the people you serve– with the respect and dignity each deserves.