Embrace Diversity: What Does it Mean?
Diversity isn’t just a buzzword. From workplace culture and company performance to every day general life, diversity plays a role. Embracing diversity in all aspects of your life can allow you to welcome new ideas, perspectives, and learnings from those around you.
When you embrace diversity, rather than passively acknowledging it, you open the door to a new world of opportunities to learn and grow.
But what exactly does it mean to embrace diversity, and how can you better learn to embrace it? Let’s answer these questions and more in an exploration of diversity and what it involves.
What Is “Diversity”?
Diversity can mean a lot of different things. But in a workplace context, “diversity” means actively cultivating and maintaining a workforce comprised of different people, ideas, and cultural forces. Note that this doesn’t mean your organization can’t be united in a single goal or focus. In fact, quite the opposite!
But diversity is more important than ever for a variety of reasons — it can help you progress professionally, morally, and personally.. Diversity enables you to:
- Improve communication skills
- Deepen your perspective
- Enhance life experience
Diversity comes in many different forms, all of which are crucial to better understanding those around us and making them feel welcome. For example, diversity can come in the form of:
- Ethnic or racial diversity
- Cultural diversity
- Religious diversity
- Diversity of ideas
- Gender diversity
As research has proven, the most diverse organizations tend to outperform and outlast organizations that are more uniform and one-note. There are many reasons for this, but it often comes down to flexibility and adaptability. Why wouldn’t the same outcome apply to our personal lives?
For everyone else, diversity adds vibrance and richness to general life. Exposure to different beliefs, traditions, and cultures can enhance your everyday experience. Diversity offers an opportunity to learn wherever you live.
Diversity is important for each of us in a practical sense and for the world in a moral sense.
What Are the Benefits of Embracing Diversity?
It can be difficult to look past differences. From customs and speech and even general appearance, there are many potential roadblocks. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are benefits and real value to connecting with someone who doesn’t mimic your own situation, background, or belief system.
One of the perks of accepting, not tolerating, others can be an upswing in creativity. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when everyone else around you thinks, feels, talks, and looks the same as you. But, by going beyond just “tolerance,” you’ll open up to a world of new life experiences.
We can’t all travel to exotic destinations or zip off to make new friends around the globe. But by learning to open ourselves to the people around us now, we become global partners in embracing diversity. We expand who we are. Travel changes us, and interacting and befriending people with differing backgrounds can change us for the better too.
Differences don’t have to divide us. They can bring out the best in us. When someone looks the same as you, we spend less time evaluating opinions and considering the viewpoints of others. But, when we interact with a variety of people who can appear very different from us, it changes the way we communicate. We listen more. We ask questions. We engage.
How Do You Embrace Diversity?
Given the above advantages, businesses aren’t the only ones looking to change. Everyday people, from all walks of life and all kinds backgrounds are learning to look beyond their immediate friend group and family to see what else is out there.
But how can you embrace diversity in concrete ways? Here are four strategies and methods you can implement starting today.
Seek to embrace uniqueness in all of its forms. We are all unique in myriad ways, ranging from race to gender to cultural background to physical abilities and more.
Learn to embrace that uniqueness whenever possible. Oftentimes, that means accommodating people who are different from one another. You’ll need to leave your discomfort at the door.
Treat people like people, regardless of potential discriminations in terms of disability, skin color, age, or sex. Look beyond the differences and see what commonalities you share. Is it an interest in a sport or hobby?
What are the things that make someone unique and what can you learn from that difference? The answer may surprise you.
Prioritize Diversity in Hiring and Promotion
Work is a large part of your life too. Is your company’s executive staff and HR department prioritizing more diversity in their hiring and promotion practices?
Oftentimes, it’s easy for unconscious bias to get in the way and cause one demographic of people to be hired over others, even if the qualifications between candidates are the same.
The same is true – and oftentimes even worse – when companies promote workers from within. Your company’s executive team and HR department should ask themselves some hard questions like:
- Why do we hire who we hire?
- Do we always promote the person best suited for the job?
- Given two equally qualified candidates, should we not take the opportunity to increase diversity rather than hire someone from an overrepresented demographic?
Just asking these questions can shift your mindset and allow you to prevent issues before they arise. Prioritizing diversity in hiring and promotion is how you truly begin to embrace diversity from the bottom up.
Of course, this isn’t to say you should deliberately ignore candidates who don’t fit a specific demographic group. But it does mean you should do your best to avoid unconsciously limiting candidates from underrepresented or minority demographics in your organization.
As an added benefit, as you prioritize diversity in hiring and promotion, current POC or minority employees at your organization will feel more comfortable. They won’t feel as singled out as before and will likely work even better as a result.
Train To Reduce Unconscious Bias
We are all subject to unconscious bias, which typically manifests in favoritism toward people like us. For example, men often promote or support other men to the exclusion of women. Women often promote or support other women to the exclusion of men, and so on.
In a workplace environment, the right training programs can work to combat, prevent, and reverse these biases. Your company can implement training seminars or sessions, for example, to reduce this unconscious bias. Both front-line employees and executive staff should experience the same training so that everyone can become aware of their bias and work to prevent it from affecting company operations.
Outside of a work environment, you can still work to combat your own personal unconscious biases. Educate yourself, read up, and do your research to broaden your horizons intentionally.
Maintain a Learning Mindset
Last but certainly not least, you can embrace diversity by maintaining a learning mindset. No one ever becomes perfect at cultural sensitivity, diversity awareness, and reducing their unconscious bias. But we can all become better over time.
A learning mindset will help you establish an openness and interest in people different from you. The next time you meet someone new, you’ll be more prepared to embrace the differences and find common ground. If you are always open to learning, you’ll be better equipped to embrace diversity for years to come.
You can’t necessarily overcome a bias overnight, nor can you expect to do so without putting in the work. It takes time, patience, and understanding to open your heart to the people around you regardless of their backgrounds.
Diversity is the way of the future – and that’s a good thing! As workplaces, our friendships, and our homes become more diverse, equality becomes more achievable, and POC and minority workers feel more comfortable in America’s best companies. You can do your part to embrace diversity by taking the above strategies and tips to heart.
But what if you want to do more? In that case, 1AND1 Life might be able to point you in the right direction. Our detailed blog and various guides contain additional tips for improving diversity wherever you are.
The Benefits of Diversity what the Research Tells Us – Daryl G. Smith, Natalie B. Schonfeld, 2000 | Sagepub Journals
Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits, Challenges, and the Required Managerial Tools1 | University of Florida