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What is DIVERSITY? (And why it's not enough)

You'll often hear me say "Go beyond DIVERSITY." After all, it is the title of this site. But do you know why this is necessary? To start, let me provide a definition of the word.

DIVERSITY: The state of having of people who have a variety of difference among them, particularly in relationship to sociopolitical identities, including gender, race, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or trans status, immigration status, country of origin, etc.

Diversity is important. Your organization, workplace or school will benefit from a diversity of active participants, who can bring a wider array of experiences, perspectives and ideas to the table. At the human level, diversity initiatives can begin to provide opportunities to people whose access to resources, jobs and schools have historically have been restricted.

But diversity doesn’t achieve results on its own. According to Forbes magazine:

“Extensive research shows that diversity alone is damaging for individuals and organizations: research links difference alone to lower revenue, performance, employee morale and wellbeing, along with slower decision making, increased conflict, absenteeism, missed opportunities and more (expensive) discrimination cases.”

To make the most of diversity you have to go deeper.

INCLUSION: Inclusion is a state where a diverse group of people are valued, respected and supported because of each person’s own unique qualities. Inclusion requires actively involving everyone’s assets, ideas, knowledge, perspectives, approaches, and styles, focusing on the needs of every individual and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve their full potential.

Diversity is passive, while inclusion is active and works to ensure that all members of the diverse group are actually able to impact the institution they are within.

Meanwhile, to achieve inclusion and realize the full potential of your diverse community, you may need to shift from an equality framework—believing everyone is the same and therefore worthy of the same resources and support—and invest in an equity model instead.

EQUITY: Equity is the practice and result of fairness. It requires trying to understand and give people what they need to enjoy full, healthy lives. Equity involves the process of undoing the impacts of oppression, bias, bigotry and discrimination.

Within an equity framework it is understood that not everyone has or needs the same things in order to succeed. To achieve equity opportunities may need to be provided for some and not others. Barriers may need to be eliminated that only disenfranchised groups experience. The goal is for all to achieve fairness, where everyone has access, is able to participate fully and realize their potential humanity.

Want to make a difference?

Go beyond DIVERSITY. Do good work BETTER.

Click to download this as a PDF resource.

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