What is Diversity & Inclusion
Over the past 18 months we have seen the words Diversity and Inclusion becoming part of mainstream conversation for many brands and organisations, as well as in wider society. Following the death of George Floyd, many of us have been forced to self-reflect and take responsibility for our own behaviours and privilege.
As someone who works within the EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) sector, both as a facilitator and speaker, I have seen the shift in awareness and desire to take action over the past year. However, it is still clear that there are many barriers in place preventing people from engaging in the conversation. As part of Oona’s continued mission to create an inclusive community devoted to wellbeing, personal growth and value creation, I will be delivering a series on all aspects of EDI.
This is a safe space for you to engage in the conversation, regardless of your identity, past experience or level of expertise. This isn’t about having all the answers, it’s about educating ourselves, recognising the privilege we have and understanding how we can improve in order to positively impact our communities and the world.
In this first post it’s important to establish our baseline and common language. We have all seen words like unconscious bias, micro aggressions, systemic racism flood our media. However, do you actually know the true definitions? Let’s find out.
Diversity & Inclusion
You may have seen the popular quote,
“Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”
A great analogy, however, I like to think of them as Diversity is a Statement, whilst Inclusion is an Action.
Every one of us is diverse, even as individuals. We navigate the world within multiple identities, e.g parent, partner, disabled, LGBTQ+ etc. Some of these identities impact us on a day to day basis, whilst others don’t effect us at all. We are also part of diverse communities and organisations, but as you can see this tends to be more about demographics. Just because a place is diverse, doesn’t mean it is automatically inclusive. Inclusion takes conscious action. Inclusion is understanding that someone may have additional an need/requirement outside of the standard procedure and making the necessary adjustments for them. This may be as simple as planning networking events during working hours to account for parents who can’t make after work events.
There are many small steps that can lead to greater inclusion throughout all aspects of our lives.
Equality Vs Equity
These two words are often used interchangeably, however, they actually have two very different meanings in the content of EDI. To understand equity, you must first understand equality.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission defines equality as:
“… ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents, and believing that no one should have poorer life chances because of where, what or whom they were born, what they believe, or whether they have a disability. Equality recognises that historically, certain groups of people with particular characteristics e.g. race, disability, sex and sexuality, have experienced discrimination.”
Equality is about ensuring no on is discriminated against based on their identity, ensuring that everyone has equal opportunity to succeed.
Equity goes a step further. It’s about understanding that based on different identities a person may have individual needs in order to have the same opportunity. The image below gives a visual representation of the differences.
As the image shows, it is only when we achieve equity that we can truly achieve equality.
Privilege & Allyship
The word privilege has become synonymous with the word ‘white’, over the past 12 months, causing many to recoil away from having open and honest conversations. However, this is actually a very limiting use of the word.
“Privilege is considered a set of unearned advantages that individuals have, versus something that has otherwise been earned.”
We ALL have privilege, whether that’s being able bodied in a world that so often forgets disability. Working in a country that speaks your first language, being in an industry that has bias towards you age group, (young or old). Living in an area that shows greater acceptance of your family dynamic. We all possess unearned advantages, however, we tend to feel under attack when these are bought to our attention, when in fact this is actually an opportunity.
Understanding your privilege, allows you to have awareness of your super power and to become an ally for others. You have the ability to open doors for people that otherwise may have been closed or even locked. Karen Caitlin author of ‘Better Allies’ breaks down the varying roles an ally can take on. From ‘The Advocate’, someone who advocates for marginalised people, by using their own influence, to ‘The Scholar,’ someone who works hard to educate themselves on the challenges faced by others. We all have the ability to become an ally for others, but like inclusion, it takes action.
This is just the beginning of the journey and hopefully an inspiring taster into the topic of EDI. The most important observation I have made throughout the many hours of facilitation is that when we endeavour to create diversity, we have greater opportunity for inclusion. If we continue to navigate the world surrounded by people that look, think and act the same as us, we limit our own perspectives and ability to grow. We feel disconnected from these larger issues and often don’t understand the necessity for EDI initiatives. However, when we are part of a diverse community and someone close to us is impacted by discrimination, we have a much greater desire to practice Allyship.
In the next post I will be discussing some of the barriers to inclusion. There are many small behaviours that occur on a day to day basis that hinder inclusivity and can often develop into much bigger issues. In the meantime, if you have any questions, you can reach me via LinkedIn or on Instagram, I am always here to help.