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Diversity. What does it mean to you? What does it mean to your boss, your neighbour or the person sitting opposite you on the train? Diversity is a noun - the state of being diverse. People have different interpretations of what diversity means. Yes, it’s also the name of a British street dance group but let’s not be mistaken, it’s a simple word but with a whole world of explanations behind it. Acceptance, inclusion, being adaptable, teamwork, praising individuality, equality and coexisting together being just a few.
Diversity to me is understanding all the qualities that make us unique and recognising our individual differences. It’s empowering people to be different. There are many dimensions of diversity that are both inherent (gender, race, sexual orientation) and acquired (socio-economic status and level of cultural education). All these factors that make us unique and different.
When thinking about how I could interpret diversity and include as many explanations as possible, I came across a memory from primary school. Do you remember your school having a carpet that was shaped like the earth, with people of different ethnicities, gender and age standing all the way around the edge? When I think of diversity, that is what I picture. Diversity makes the world go round.
I came across another explanation - “Diversity to me is like a surprise party. You know nothing about it but then you see all the different people you have met and all of them getting along and learning about each other, just like they were all the same person but with different interests.” This illustrates what inclusion means, despite people’s differences.
Diversity and inclusion is a big thing in my office. We aim to create a comfortable and safe space to work for people of all different backgrounds. This is one of the things I love about going into work everyday - the willingness and drive to learn about one another’s cultures.
We used to have ‘International Days’ where we would go to school dressed in clothes from our culture. This was my favourite way to celebrate diversity as I was able to see what each culture looked like and how they were different from mine. I was fortunate to have lived in Morocco and Dubai, therefore I was able to experience cultures that were completely different to London’s. This has made me more adaptable to new environments and people, as I am eager to continue learning about many cultures from around the world.
I also come from a mixed background - I’m half Vietnamese, half Jamaican. Again, this has meant I’ve grown up surrounded by two polar-opposite cultures which has meant I have been exposed to two different ‘ways of life’.
Diversity is important to me because I’m the type of person who aims to please and wants to make everyone feel welcome. I’m a happy person. Shy at first, but once you get to know me I’ll be talking about anything and everything. This is why I really value diverse places as I’m not always the one to approach other people first. If everyone was as introverted as I was, a conversation may never start. If everyone was as selfless as me, I would never be encouraged to take time to think for myself first. If everyone was the same, the world would be a boring place.
I wanted to end with a super inspirational quote that perfectly summarised what diversity means to everyone. However, one single sentence is impossible to put together everyone’s thoughts, so I’ll end with a few lengthy opinions on diversity instead:
Diversity is everyone accepting everyone else’s ways of traditions, as it’s not diverse if everyone hates each other. We should celebrate it by trying to integrate people but not trying to force it on them.
Diversity for me is synonymous with individuality, in the sense that to be diverse is to have loads of individuals. Celebration of diversity can be as simple as complimenting someone you don’t know for something they do that’s different to you, or as big as getting together and partying with loads of friends.
It means sharing experiences with people from all over the world and meeting people from different backgrounds. Celebrating it means accepting that we all come from different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs and enjoying the festivities around it.
Including all voices.
Building a world where progress, equitable outcomes, diversity, and inclusion can be realities both inside and outside our workplace.
Diversity is when multiple groups of people, whether it be gender, religion, culture and race are able to come together and be represented as individuals as well as a collective group.
It is so much more than just the surface qualities of race or gender. Diversity means all the qualities that makes us unique as an individual or as part of a group. It’s acceptance, respect and understanding everyone.
Having role models.
Seeing yourself represented in your surroundings - in the office, in society, on TV. Diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being invited to dance.