The image of seeds in a sack by Frans Van Heerden from Pexel that I’ve used here today highlights to me clearly, why diversity should not be mistaken. After attending a meeting last week about improving diversity, and not feeling welcomed or that my opinion was valued, the goal of diversity had, in reality, failed at the start gate.
The word diversity is currently a very popular catch phrase used by many organisations, along with inclusion advocacy. I’d like to suggest though, that truly authentic diversity and inclusion is yet to be achieved almost anywhere.
As a retired chef, and lover of food, and this probably applies to anyone who can cook, that to understand diversity, perhaps it is as simple as asking if it would be rationale to assume each of the ingredients in the image did the same thing, or were liked by everyone.
Lately, I am thinking about diversity a lot more often too!
So, let’s start with a dictionary definition of diversity, as it is very relevant to the increasing amount of the supposed ‘inclusion’ of people with dementia and their care partners and families.
- 1. the state of being diverse; variety. “there was considerable diversity in the style of the reports”
- the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.”equality and diversity should be supported for their own sake”
What diversity means is understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences is important. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. When we hear the word “diversity” we think of race and maybe culture. Of course, when speaking about the diversity of ethnicity, race and culture are key aspects, but diversity is (or should be) much broader. Diversity cuts across all facets of our lives and it plays an important role, in fact, as important as helping us to survive.
Some of the types of diversity include:
- Cultural diversity
- Racial diversity
- Religious diversity
- Age diversity
- Sex / Gender diversity
- Sexual orientation
One aspect of diversity I’ve not easily found in research, nor discussed in most of the dictionaries and sites, is the importance of diversity around having a different opinion.
As a self advocate (not a term I use in my CV anymore), I am actively excluded from manyof the vents and meeetings where I have a publicly known opinion.
My message to those who exclude ‘us’, is that they are doing themslves and the global dementia community a major disswrevice, by not allowig soemoen wo may have a different viewpoint, a great disservice. Diversity brings in new ideas and experiences, and people can learn from each other. Bringing in different ideas and perspectives leads to better problem-solving. Working in diverse teams opens dialogue and promotes creativity. The value of diversity will become more apparent, once organisations support equal inclusion and diversity.