by Renae Sanders
Over that last three years, thanks to the political environment (in part), we have heard and discussed more issues related to diversity and inclusion. More news reports, documentaries, and television shows seek to show us different aspects of our society’s struggle with social justice issues, cultural relations, generations, sexual orientation, religion, immigration, and what it means to be a part of a global community.
What stands in the way of our progress toward inclusion? Are we a tolerant people?
I am certain those who seek inclusion would want the “perceived exclusionists” to do more than merely tolerate their presence at work, in schools, on playgrounds, as neighbors, as patrons, or as fellow human beings. Author, Iyanla Vanzant once stated, “We all just want to heard, valued, respected.” Surely, tolerance is not the answer!
In my experience, dominant group members believe change comes too fast and are frustrated by calls for even more change; conversely, subordinated groups continue to experience change as too slow. What informs our beliefs about this movement is our perception of the level of change. Its undeniable, things have and continue to change. But until we fully realize just how interdependent we all are, we will continue to struggle with inclusion. We still have a long way to go and yet, ‘we are the change we seek’. The work of inclusion starts with each one of us.
By focusing only on our diversity, especially the visual facets, we often fail to see our just how much we have in common with each other. According to Novations Group, Inc., diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another. Inclusion is when we feel a sense of belonging or connectedness and feeling valued for who we are as individuals or as members of a group.
The work of inclusion is like the layers of an onion, once you have one breakthrough; you realize there is more interpersonal work to do.
Johnson, K.R. (1999). How did you get to be Mexican? A white/brown man’s search for identity. The Diversity Factor, 7(2), p. 22-27.
Miller, F. A. and Katz, J. H. (2002). The Inclusion Breakthrough: Unleashing the Real Power of Diversity. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Renae Sanders is the Managing Director at KRS Consulting, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in organizational relationships. Believing people are the link between strategy and success, Renae works with organizations, leaders, and managers to strengthen internal relationships. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.