Inclusion in Action

Diversity means difference. Literally. Diversity means difference, and human beings are positively riddled with difference. One of the very few things that is universally true of all human beings is that each of us is in some way different. Difference is a natural part of the human experience, and it has consequences. If we are to maximize the positive consequences and minimize the negative consequences we have to do stuff. We might call this stuff the practice of inclusion.

Properly understood, inclusion is not an intellectual endeavor, an attitude, state of mind, or a kind of person. It is also not someone else’s job. It is an active practice that requires intention, time, and effort, a job that falls on each of us. Some of you might be thinking, “but I already have a job.” I get that a lot. Here’s the thing though – you may work in finance, or I.T., or education, or management, or healthcare…but all of those things involve human beings. They are done with, and for, and around other human beings. Humanity, mind-bogglingly, incomprehensibly diverse, is the context within which¬† you live, work, and play.

Not only is it your responsibility as an employee or co-worker, it is your responsibility as a human being. It is how we live together.

Regardless of your title, or profession, inclusion is one of your biggest opportunities and one of your biggest obligations. If you are not trying to be inclusive in how you do your work, someone is likely going to have to come along and fix it…because it is tilted.

Some folks, as they come to realize this, want to immediately start doing stuff – they want to start hanging posters and launching programs and that is not necessarily bad, but critical to an effective practice of inclusion is education and awareness. One of the truisms that shows up in all aspects of this work is that good intentions are not enough.

What are you doing to educate yourself and your peers on diversity and inclusion?

Rather than waiting for your company to hire a speaker, what are you doing?

What are you doing to understand your own social identity, how that informs your experience, and what advantages and / or disadvantages are involved?

What are you doing to educate yourself and your peers on inclusive language?

What are you doing to educate yourself and your peers on the different aspects of the business case? It is always interesting to me that the folks with the questions about the business case have never been to any D&I conferences, are not familiar with the relevant research, have not read the books, do not read any blogs or listen to any podcasts related to D&I – seems like a lot of folks are choosing to remain uninformed.

What are you doing to educate yourself and your peers on bias?

Inclusion is not a product of being a “good person,” or having the right intentions. It is activist in nature. The question is not whether you are an inclusive person, whatever that means, the question is what do you do intentionally, and deliberately to be more inclusive?

Especially in the beginning, but always, part of your answer should be what you are doing to continue learning about yourself, about others, about bias and other aspects of human nature, about group dynamics and other related issues.

Study hard, and share often, there is a lot at stake.

Be good to each other.

  1. Inclusion in Action, cont'd - joe gerstandt

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