Us vs. Them
“Us versus them” seems to be how most people view diversity and inclusion. This mentality is the reason that the concept is adversarial.
If we include “them” what happens to “us?” Will “they” take our jobs? How will my neighborhood look or change if “they” move in?
There is no written rule that says that you have to like someone right away, but you do have to show them common courtesy and respect. This means caring less about any cultural, ethnic or class differences, and instead, showing a basic value for humanity.
A basic lack of respect for others makes it easy to use labels to define them. What turns a lot of people off from embracing the concept of diversity and inclusion—especially in the workplace—is that it feels like they are being forced to hire “them,” promote “them” and spend thousands on diversity programs to make “them” feel comfortable. At its core, it seems that you are being forced to “like” people you don’t understand, or risk being sued, fired or alienated as a pariah in your office.
It’s okay that you don’t understand someone’s culture. It’s okay that you’re uncomfortable. However, it’s not okay to never address the situation and then use someone’s diverse nature against them purely because of a lack of understanding. In fact, studies show that when diverse people first mesh, there is always a period of discomfort.
Fear of the unknown unleashes thoughtless dialogue and grievous errors against humankind. To this end, diversity programs are important. They create awareness and provide an environment for you to learn and begin the process of understanding.
Why go through all this?
It’s simple. Diversity increases your bottom line, which ultimately, multiplies jobs and enhances your quality of life. Diversity breeds innovation. When employees are sitting around your conference table with different life experiences and perspectives, creativity is present, and the innovative ideas create new or better products and services toward the marketability and success of your company.
Humankind is interconnected. Diversity shouldn’t be about “us versus them,” but how our interconnectedness plays a part in a better quality of life for all of us.