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Diversity Message

Let’s start with a definition and go into a deeper dive regarding Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity: is the range of human differences including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin and political beliefs. (* Ferris State University).
Inclusion: “In an inclusive workplace, everyone feels respected and valued for being who they are; people trust that they can speak up and be fairly treated; and they share a sense of belonging. Inclusion is not a steady state. It is continuously created through the ways people and organizations operate.  In an inclusive workplace, people can do their best work and organizations can gain the full benefit of a diverse workforce.” (*Institute for Community Inclusion).

I recently listened to a pod cast of a group of diverse co-workers talk about what “Diversity and Inclusion” means to them. They had several interesting ideas about how to have and initiate conversations around these two topics.  Some of the ideas/takeaways the group shared that stood out to me where:
  • Having uncomfortable conversations in the workplace are a huge barrier. So how do we encourage discomfort?  Some suggested simply let’s just name it and talk about it.  It’s ok to make mistakes, have hard conversations. Sometimes topics can be viewed as an attack on people. Diversity is taught.  Perhaps something that is helpful could be the delivery of initiating a topic of conversation by saying for instance “This is uncomfortable isn’t it”? Conversations do not have to be painful, but seen as an opportunity to learn and necessary for progress.
  • People often get scared sometimes to have conversations surrounding diversity topics because they don’t want to offend people or think they are judging or labeling.  As co-workers we need to create a safe space for uncomfortable conversation. Simple ways to make people feel safe and respected could be, pronouncing names correctly, asking for more clarification on a topic, don’t make assumptions, being self-aware and thoughtful. Problems start to arise when people get settled in their own ways and are unable to be flexible at all.
  • Diversity Trainings, these tend to have a negative connotation or effect. Diversity trainings should be more of an opportunity for developing collaboration skills and ally mentoring.  People feeling good equal people also feeling safe at work. Some co-workers feel a sense of shame and guilt when talking about Diversity and express that they are tired of feeling guilty and that diversity should not be checking of boxes, meeting quotas or having a sense of checks and balances.  In fact, diversity should be centered around diverse thoughts, backgrounds and conversations.
  • Thoughts on inclusion involve the question of, how do we invite those to feel inclusion or that they belong? Asking questions and being authentically engaged is one way.  A good way to start off would be perhaps asking a co-worker, “I want to know more about you”? It’s not just about filling a quota.  Everyone has diverse perspectives and we need to respect them.
The rebranding of Diversity & Inclusion (* “All in: Workplace Diversity & Inclusion by Leadpages”).

Monisha Hendrix

"NIEAPA members shall seek to develop an awareness of their own personal and cultural values and beliefs as one way of appreciating the importance of multicultural identities in our own lives and in the lives of those we serve.  NIEAPA members shall have and continue to develop specialized knowledge and understanding about the values, traditions and systems of all employees at the workplaces they serve."

Northern Illinois Chapter Employee Assistance Professionals Association (NIEAPA)

Address: 400 E. Randolph #2305, Chicago. IL 60601Phone: +1 (312) 756-7756

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