By Nikol Stoykova
Although Diversity and Inclusivity Week is coming to a close, here at the IH blog, we hope that for many of us, this is will only be a starting point for some extra motivation to be even more open-minded and curious about the world around us. That is why, after all the great events that many of us enjoyed throughout this week, we decided to put together a list of some of the more important points we hope to take away from this and come back to time and time again in the future. Yay for diversity and inclusivity!
Let’s start off easy….
What is diversity?
Diversity is a term that takes all of the infinite number of human differences and all of the variety that exists in the world and puts it all together nicely and concisely into one word. Pretty cool, huh? Imagine how many faces and personalities hide behind it. On a most fundamental level, when we use this word, we refer to all aspects that make up a person and particularly, all of those that make them special. This starts from the basics such as age, nationality, and race, and can span all the way to rather complicated matters such as value system, personal and political beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation, and much, much more.
Ok, we get it…
What about inclusion?
Inclusion is exactly what it sounds like. It recognizes that all people are different in a wonderfully beautiful way and appreciates those differences. Pretty easy, right? But it doesn’t only stop there. Inclusivity also involves ideas about empowerment and a sense of belonging, it focuses on individual worth and dignity in variety. Imagine it like this: diversity and inclusivity always hold hands and walk through life together. One always makes the other make sense and vice versa.
Theoretically, it all seems pretty straight-forward. But for many people, it could be quite overwhelming when those terms leave the textbook and begin to take different shapes in real life. For a lot of us, this might be a year of firsts: and in the most cases, that includes the first time encountering so much variety in life. Let’s be honest, here in IH, we’re all about variety. That is why we are such big supporters of diversity and inclusivity.
Now, all of this is quite important, because it all takes up a great amount of our lives and is all around us, no matter if we notice it or not. In our homes, in our class, in our job. Here are some ways to keep positive and work on being the great people we all strive to be!
1. Accept that your brain is biased…
All of us make assumptions—every day, for everything, and uncountable number of times. Just think about it: the moment you set your eyes on someone, it’s most likely that you’ve already made some assumptions about them. We do it unconsciously, even when we’re trying to control it. That is why we encourage you to try to be more conscious about it. It’s almost like a challenge—just try and notice how many times a day you do it.
2. …and that’s okay, as long as you’re humble about it.
Now try to think about the number of times you’ve been wrong about something you’ve assumed. This is something completely normal, and it’s okay, as long as you acknowledge it in your mind and stay humble. Every person comes with a different story, and sometimes they might surprise us with something we haven’t seen or heard about before. And that’s okay as well.
3. Pay attention!
With so many people around and so much happening all the time, it’s easy to overlook many details that could go unnoticed. Be curious about the little things in people, because it is usually exactly this type of curiosity that is most appreciated. Try to remember the small details about them as well. Last step is, if you see someone overlooking someone else, being rude, or simply being unintentionally ignorant about something and you know it, call them out—gently. Don’t point fingers but try to show that you notice and you care about everyone being included.
4. Be mindful of your language
Try to be careful about what you’re saying and the way you are saying it. A lot of the time, we speak before we think just because it is something natural that comes to us. As much as language allows us freedom of expression, it can also be quite constricting for a lot of people without us realising it. Language tends to label everything just because that’s the way it works. Just remember that sometimes, things don’t need to be labelled—and maybe it’s better if they aren’t.
5. Keep an open mind and appreciate the advantages of diversity
In the end, diversity is a beautiful thing! And once we learn to recognise it and appreciate it, life can become so much more colourful and fun. And when you think about it, curiously enough, diversity can usually be the reason why a lot of people get together in the end!