Diversity is a Fact, Inclusion is a Decision

Inclusion is a decision .jpg

Yesterday, I was at the centre of the City of Adelaide, walking across the Rundle Mall stretch that had absolutely come alive with dance, music, national dresses, food from around the globe and a ton of cultural influences that make South Australia an amazing state to be in and Adelaide a place where you can experience the world.

I could hear all kinds of languages and mingle with people who were truly enjoying the diversity we were surrounded by. It was a heady feeling of being alive and awake in the midst of our differences; I felt like life had meaning because of our differences, not despite them.

I felt purposeful and as if there was a rightness to my life. Walking down the path and looking around at snippets of cultures from around the world was a joy to behold - no two alike, none any less than the one next to it.

It got me thinking how diversity is a fact for everyone across the globe. Yet, we so struggle with inclusion.

We stop to think if it's a good idea to be inclusive, and if it's far more convenient, and even safer, to stay within ourselves and with our own. A good indicator for inclusion being a decision, and a personal one at that, is when we look around our organisations. We still feel the need to speak specifically about how to be inclusive and how leaders can lead this charge from their positions of influence. I am passionate about this part, in fact.

We feel the need to explain and talk about inclusion because we can as easily reject as we can accept someone else's choices. And not for justifiable reasons always.

Let me rephrase that, it's much easier to reject and a little harder to accept. Just like it's easier to collaborate, but far tougher to really get to know someone in another team.

For that, we have to look within, question our decisions, rattle some old stuff that has taken strong hold of our beliefs and then muster the courage to pull aside the cobwebs to take a good, long and hard look at how we think.

More importantly, where are our choices and thinking leading us and who are we becoming in the process? This is a hard question for most of us. I've pondered a lot over this and written about it in how being an outsider has been my privilege, so I could understand my and other people's choices better. So I could be empathic before I expected to be understood and empathised with.

There is much to be gained by opening the door to not just diversity, but then of being inclusive of it. Diversity is making sure we have various perspectives on the table, inclusion is making sure they are heard.

To see real progress, perhaps, we must be able to move beyond food, music and dance, and embrace the choices, values, thinking, cultures and traditions that make a person different deep down.

Our organisations could do with a shift towards inclusion, so that our diversity can shine through and make a difference instead of waiting in the wings to be called on stage.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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