What is Diversity?
Watch the following short video (from 0:00 - 0:40) before moving to the next part.
Diversity is an evolving concept and everyone defines it differently. But, for the purpose of this course, the following definition will be used to describe diversity.
“Diversity refers to all of the ways in which people differ, including primary characteristics, such as age, race, gender, ethnicity, mental and physical abilities, and sexual orientation; and secondary characteristics, such as nationality, education, income, religion, work experience, language skills, geographic location, family status, communication style, military experience, learning style, economic background, and work style” (Williams, 2013).
As the short video above listed, there are both primary and secondary characteristics of diversity.
The primary characteristics of diversity are the characteristics that we can see.
These include, gender, race, sexual orientation, and age though these characteristics may not always be noticeable (Yarber, 2021).
The secondary characteristics of diversity are defined by way of experience & are not always visible. These characteristics can also be changed over time. Secondary characteristics include family status, education, income, and communication style (Yarber, 2021).
Activity #2: Putting it together.
Use the diversity wheel below to complete 'Activity #2.'
There are two parts to 'Activity #2.'
For the first activity, which is titled, 'Circles of My Multicultural Self,' do the following:
1) Put your name in the central circle.
2) Fill the peripheral circles with important aspects of your identity. This can include anything that you think is important in defining who you are. Examples include: female, athlete, mentor, scientist etc.
3) Write one paragraph describing a situation where you were proud to identify yourself with one or more of these identity descriptors used.
4) Write one paragraph describing a situation where it was painful to identify yourself with one or more of these identity descriptors used.
5) Name a stereotype that is associated with one of the descriptors you identity with that is not consistent with who are. Fill in the following:
I am (a/an) ________________ but I am not (a/an) ___________________
For the second activity, which is titled 'My Personality Tree,' do the following:
Use the skeletal tree provided to create your personality tree. Fill in your tree with the following items:
1) Roots - your life influences and beliefs.
2) Trunk - life structure and things that are firm and fixed.
3) Branches - relationships, interests, and how you spend your time.
4) Leaves - information and knowledge.
5) Buds - your ideas and hopes for the future.
6) Fruit - your achievements (these can be big or small and do not necessarily have to be things where you were given an award or medal in recognition).
7) Flowers - what makes you special and your strengths (This is an important step! Know that you all have something special in you).
8) Thorns - challenges, threats and difficulties (This is another important step!).
“Diversity Activities Resource Guide.” Center for Diversity and Inclusion - University of Houston, https://www.uh.edu/cdi/diversity_education/resources/_files/_activities/diversity-activities-resource-guide.pdf.
"What is Diversity?."YouTube, uploaded by Ohio State University Administration & Planning, 9 September 2016, https://youtu.be/XtzqA82F2KI.
Borkoski, Carey, and Sherri K. Prosser. “Engaging Faculty in Service-Learning: Opportunities and Barriers to Promoting Our Public Mission - Tertiary Education and Management.” SpringerLink, Springer Netherlands, 18 June 2019, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11233-019-09033-0/figures/1.
Embracing Diversity (and why it's important)
Now that we've covered the definition of diversity & applied the knowledge to a couple of activities, the next step lies in how we can embrace diversity in the classroom, the workplace and any place where you get the incredible opportunity of working with individuals from various backgrounds.
Watch this video in it's entirety before moving to the next part.
To embrace diversity, we must:
1) Treat people with respect. This can be done by building on the gifts and strengths of others & focusing on others before you (Forbes Coaches Council, 2019).
2) Ask for everyone's perspective. Diversity is embraced when you open yourself up to new ideas and perspectives (Forbes Coaches Council, 2019). This can be done by surrounding yourself with people of different genders, religions, race, work experience, education levels, political leanings and inviting them to share their perspective (Forbes Coaches Council, 2019). This also requires excellent listening skills; make sure to give whoever is speaking your full attention. This is a sign to let them know that you value their input & will encourage them to share their input in the future, as well.
3) Combat judgement with self-awareness and reflection. To combat judgement, ask yourself "I wonder how I have been overlooking the strengths of person xyz?" This should lead to spend some time reflecting therefore leading to adopting an open-mind set (Forbes Coaches Council, 2019).
4) Promote Empathy. The best way that we can embrace diversity is by building our capacity to empathize with others (Forbes Coaches Council, 2019). Empathizing with others helps us to see the world from their perspectives & helps to breakdown any barrier of separation (Forbes Coaches Council, 2019).
Embracing diversity is important because 1) it encourages innovation and 2) it's simply the right thing to do (Webber, 2019). When we embrace diversity, we are exposed to various perspectives and ideas - all of which are vital for innovation (Webber, 2019). And embracing diversity eliminates the pressure many people feel which is that they have to fit in & try to be someone they are not just so they could feel welcome (Webber, 2019).
"Embracing Diversity." YouTube, uploaded by PLURAL UNAOC-IOM, 10 December 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdcLH9vAgwI.
Webber, Tom. “Three Reasons Why Embracing Diversity and Inclusion Is Good for Business.” Reba, 30 Aug. 2019, https://reba.global/content/three-reasons-why-embracing-diversity-and-inclusion-is-good-for-business.
Council, Forbes Coaches. “Embracing Diversity: Seven Approaches Leaders Can Use.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 10 Apr. 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/04/10/embracing-diversity-seven-approaches-leaders-can-use/?sh=7784298b4b5a.