Living With Diversity: Why Is It Important?

In this article, we discuss how diversity is intrinsic to our daily lives.

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In June, Pride Day was celebrated worldwide. Currently, diversity and inclusion are two words that have been very popular in recent years. Although the world is made up of diverse people, it is only recently that the importance of celebrating this rather than using differences as reasons for segregation has been realised. We all have something to gain from diversity, whether in behaviours, characteristics, ideas, and experiences.

We always say that you have to respect the other, regardless of anything. However, there is seldom a reflection or dialogue about the origin of discrimination and why we have to educate ourselves to respect others. Shouldn't this be an a priori notion?

It is necessary to understand that diversity is a social construction. This means that distinctions do not exist in themselves; it is we, as a society, who construct parameters of what is ugly, beautiful, strange and correct, among others.

It is also necessary to understand that there are all kinds of differences: race, gender, sexuality, religion, values, learning rhythms, family configurations, etc. And they are all interconnected.

Diversity is the quality of what is diverse, a varied set of things or people that make up a whole. The importance of diversity is intrinsic to our daily lives. It is in the multiplicity that we find opportunities for learning and practising different skills: empathy, emotional intelligence and understanding.

This reflection is fundamental, as it helps to understand that it is a society that establishes standards and, therefore, can act on the mechanisms to change this reality.

Understanding Inclusion

The key point of the discussion on diversity is the action of the social mechanisms that transform differences into inequalities. Understanding them is fundamental to establishing new practices.

A large portion of the population is unaware of the cultural elements that integrate the experiences of a people. This lack of knowledge inhibits the resignification of diversity as a factor that adds value, and not as another way of separating people from the collective life.

In Anthropology, some thinkers have already tried to formulate theories to justify the unjustifiable: the elevation of some peoples, classified as superior, to the detriment of ethnicities considered inferior due to their phenotype or their cultural manifestations.

The subjugation by the quality of being out of the “common” was explained, for example, by social Darwinism, a theory later opposed by the structuralism of Claude Lévi-Strauss.

Fortunately, today multiplicity is more evident than before. Different ethnicities occupy places that in a historical context would be impossible: in the corporate and political sphere, in communication systems and the like.

However, this presence is insignificant compared to the ideal situation and, therefore, we need to emphasise daily the importance of diversity in our society.

Inclusion is the best example of this openness: thus, the difference takes place in society. When someone who has characteristics different from the majority is included, doors of sharing, learning and experiences are opened.

The benefits go both ways. When living with inclusivity:

• One learns about the other
• Beliefs that what is different is bad or worse are broken
• New perspectives are acquired
• It is understood that everyone has their peculiarities

What Is the Importance of Diversity?

See below, the importance of diversity for our evolution as a society.

1. Representativeness

Ethnic and cultural representation in a social context, whether in the workplace, in politics or on television, is an essential factor in creating a society that values and appreciates diversity.

2. Creativity

Living with different cultures is a constant and unique learning process that requires adaptation, respect and understanding. The act also favours creativity and “thinking outside the box”, since we are in constant contact with new perspectives of the same element.

3. Inclusion

Understanding, accepting and valuing differences is part of the inclusion process. Inclusion is only possible if based on the coexistence between people of different conditions, cultures and characteristics.

4. Innovation

The multiplicity of teams also favours innovation. Diverse work teams tend to create a broader vision, just as creativity does. Several perspectives of a whole allow cultural brainstorming, which enables the emergence of new ideas.

Diversity is in our daily lives in all spaces. This means experiencing traditions, learning new skills, and having a broader and less selfish view of ourselves to build a more just society.

This is the importance of diversity: providing the opportunity to strengthen our development as a society. Evidently, we live in a world formed by ethnicities with their specificities, but all with the same rights and duties, based on a unique condition of being Human.

To learn more about how mentoring can be used to improve diversity and inclusion within your organisation, book a free demonstration with f today.

This article was guest written by Letícia Miranda.

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