In the past few weeks we've been talking about how important diversity is in life, how it enriches us and helps us be better people, more empathetic and understanding. How meeting people from all walks of life, and experiencing new things help us be a better version of ourselves. I think the same applies to work environments and life in general.
When the place you work is not diverse, or the area of the world you live in doesn't have a lot of different people, there's a risk of losing perspective on what other people, different to you or far away, think, want, or need. It becomes an echo chamber of sorts, where the same ideologies and perspectives get bounced around. They might have different ideas, but having the same type of experience makes it hard to truly discuss a topic or situation from different viewpoints. You can not truly understand what you've never experienced, unless someone that has had that experience explains it to you. Reading about it is good, but you'll never truly grasp how it has affected others' lives, until you sit with them and listen.
And that's why diversity in the workplace, and in a country, is so important. There's a need right now to educate people about how different cultures, your gender expression, and the way we were raised changes how we approach work and life as a whole, how there's more than one way to do things, and how to understand these differences and how to meld them together to get the best possible outcome. That others are not intrinsically wrong, for doing things a different way. And that we need to have more of these different people present in decision making and helping with policies and laws.
It's been said that representation is important, because when you see someone that looks and talks like you, doing a certain job, it becomes real, attainable. I had a conversation one time with one of my kids about how women can be doctors, engineers, architects, truck drivers, plumbers, electricians or anything they set their mind to, and men can be teachers, nurses, daycare providers, and be nurturing- and they both can be very good at their job, and enjoy it. This conversation, a few decades ago, would have been controversial. It's still controversial for some people. The idea that people can do any job they want to do seems to be a new one. It is important for my girls, and boys as well, to see that type of diversity. To be able to be themselves and understand that what they dream or desire to do is completely normal, and that what they want to be once they grow up is not limited by their gender expression, their culture, or the color of their skin.
The same can be said of adults that see their culture, people that look like them, and think like them, represented in positions of power, in careers that just a few years ago were unattainable for them. In my opinion, diversity should be something normal- not something that we see every once in a while, and that gets pointed out in news articles as a novelty. How can you dream of being president, astronaut, rocket scientist, top executive, if you've never seen anyone like you doing the job? What incentive would I have to participate in politics and the making of laws, if all the people that are don't seem to understand what my life, my circumstances feel like? these shared traits help us feel connected to these people, even when we don't know them, and we start caring more about what's happening around us when we feel seen and like we matter, and that there's someone like us that understands.
It's important that businesses hire qualified people for the content of their minds, no matter what they look like on the outside. It's important that everyone gets the opportunity to apply for these positions, and that they get a fair chance at it, without being disqualified solely because of their difference in culture, or for being different than what people think the person doing the job should be. And the more we see how these differences help enrich the workplace, the more prevalent diversity will become.
This generation has been doing a good job at changing the norms, and at including the marginalized and the different. But there's still a lot of work to do. A lot of barriers and biases to overcome. We've been taking big steps to that.
Let's teach our children that no matter what they look like, sound like, eat like, they all matter. And they deserve to be a part of society, the workplace, government- wherever way they wish to.
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