How to learn something new… like Diversity & Inclusion
You say, “it’s not new”? Maybe that’s true. But, it’s new for me to really understand it.
When I started on this journey towards self improvement, I had no idea what I was doing. Each step along the way has made me smarter and more confident.
The newest topic that I wanted to know more about is Diversity & Inclusion. What’s the best way to learn something new?
- Write what you think it is
- Talk to friends that you think know what it is
- Have them point you to experts and let the experts tell you
A friend of mine asked me what I thought it meant. Here’s what I said.
“When I first think of diversity I think of ratios of black versus white. When I think of inclusion, the only thing that comes to mind is dropping my biases and preconceived notions. Everyone is equal. We all have a level playing field.”
She gave me partial credit for spelling and putting my name on the paper. Other than that, I had missed the mark.
She said diversity is more about having people from diverse backgrounds. This might have to do with race, but is also related to how they were raised, where did they live, where have the worked. These are more demographic qualifications.
When thinking of inclusion it is more about a quota and how well you are doing against your quota. However, it can be more than that.
Shortly after I had surgery and was still very aware of my new look (with only one eye open) I went to my son’s baseball practice. There, one of the younger brothers of his teammate, maybe 5 years old, turned toward me. He saw how much different I looked than most people and turned his head to one side. It was almost like he was trying to get another angle or just understand this person in front of him.
After a few seconds, that seemed like an hour, he said, “hey mister, what happened to your eye?”. I stumbled and said, “well, I’ve been sick and my eye just stopped working.” Feeling mortified about the best way to answer him, I just stopped trying to explain. He’s a kid, after all, how could he understand? What am I going to say if he asks me another question?
It’s then, that he turned around and started playing in the dirt. He didn’t judge me. He just wanted to know if I was ok. It’s what I needed at that time. Why can’t we all have the spirit of that kid? Be inquisitive, but not judgmental. An answer to a question, doesn’t always deserve another question. Sometimes we just need to know that you’re ok.
While I felt “different”, the innocent non-judgmental response from the child made me feel ok.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be including comments from executives on this topic. It’s fascinating to learn what it means to them, as well.
I hope you’ll join me.