An article on the state of US workplace diversity lists 14 statistics that argue we must address the challenges of diversity in the US. Diversity is one of our guiding principles because it requires a lot of effort and dedication. The demographics are changing in the general population, but not in positions of power. It is central to our theory of change that addressing the diversity challenges in our society starts with creating environments were women of diverse backgrounds and races can meet outside the workplace and their communities to start understanding and learning to appreciate our differences and then moving to building alliances that help us to move into action and power.
Queenborough Community College in New York City’s definition of diversity reflects our belief that we must be vigilant and persistent in support of diversity.
“Diversity is a reality created by individuals and groups from a broad spectrum of demographic and philosophical differences. It is extremely important to support and protect diversity because by valuing individuals and groups free from prejudice it helps foster a climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic. It means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating difference. Diversity is a set of conscious practices that involve:
Understanding and appreciating interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment.
Practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.
Understanding that diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing;
Recognizing that personal, cultural and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others;
Building alliances across differences so that we can work together to eradicate all forms of discrimination.
Diversity includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups. These include but are not limited to age, ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, as well as religious status, gender expression, educational background, geographical location, income, marital status, parental status, and work experiences. Finally, we acknowledge that categories of difference are not always fixed but also can be fluid, we respect individual rights to self-identification, and we recognize that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another.”
We must include practices that support the value of diversity in our communities and workplaces and the positive impacts it can have on organizations and society and make diversity a keystone of the work we do as women leaders. Strong Women Action Network is committed to doing the work and creating the policies and culture that will support this definition of diversity.