Promoting diversity is the first step to not just “tolerance” but true inclusion and acceptance. Through growing contact with, exposure to, and communication between people who are not like us, we can learn how to relate to difference in a way where difference doesn’t have to be a problem, a barrier, or a threat. And accidentally, we might also see that the people we assumed to be so different to us may actually have a lot more in common than they thought. Increasing familiarity with these differences (and commonalities) can shape and shift our perspectives, cultivate an acceptance that facilitates belonging, and diminish the misconceptions and prejudices that fuel discrimination.
If you experience diversity in your everyday life, you will have regular exposure to people, cultures, traditions, and practices that are unlike your own. Hopefully you will learn the skills to communicate and interact with communities, concepts, and belief systems that you are unfamiliar with and therefore gain a more worldly, balanced, and informed perspective. Not only will you enhance your own social development, but you will also increase your true understanding of the world. This will prepare you to be a part of a global society, whether you are traveling to a new country, working with people from diverse backgrounds, or just reading about events in the news that heavily impacts a population different than your own.
Hearing about another’s experience can shed light on a life different from your own and provide you a new perspective. When you contrast your struggles, needs, and values with someone else’s, you can really begin to comprehend where an individual is coming from and empathetically understand their attitudes, behaviours, and beliefs at a deeper level (through which you can more deeply understand your own). Perhaps talking to someone new will change your mind or challenge your values which on a subconscious level can seem scary for our brains, or the pay off for flexible thinking is a life where we get to see through many different lenses and experience the kaleidoscope that diversity of perspective has to offer.
To take your workplace and life to a whole new level, having diversity be a part of your plan will help you see things in a different way.
Celebrate diversity! It helps you grow.