During my years of Diversity & Inclusion training and consulting, have seen numerous organizations giving their employees a few hours training of Diversity without following up with inclusion strategies.
Just a reminder that Diversity without inclusion will call out our differences, increasing exclusion rather than inclusion. Diversity & Inclusion are two faces of the same coin. Including others is to accept them for who they are, and not who we want them to be.
It’s easy to love the people that are just like us, that look and dress like us, that is a no-brainer, and doesn’t take a lot of effort. The real challenge comes when we have to deal with people that are different than us, people we don’t agree with, or as far as we are concerned they are making poor choices, it is easy for us to size them, to put them in a box, keep them at a distance, and declare that they are not our cup of tea.
So we exclude people instead of including them, we write them off, and ignore them because they are not meeting our expectations and standards, when we should actually accept them for who they are. Diversity by definition has multiplicity and variety in its meaning, it is about adding not removing.
My personal mantra in life is “I will accept you even if I do not agree with you”, we might be on different paths of our lives at this moment, may be in a week, month, or year we might get to that point of our journey where we see eye to eye. Writing you off means that I might be losing a great friend, a positive presence in my life, or a great learning experience.
Even if I don’t agree with your lifestyle, your doctrine, friends you are choosing, I am not supposed to judge you but to accept you. We need to realize that everyone is on a journey, where they are right now is not where they are going to end up, they are unfinished product, and they are still working on themselves, exactly as we are.
We start labeling people “they are a mess, they are too liberal or too conservative, too old, too young and the list goes on”. Do not be self-righteous, take off the judgmental glasses, you or a loved one could be in the same position any time suffering from the same things you are being critical and judgmental about.
Many of people’s actions, expectations, values, and beliefs are linked to their culture, blind spots and bias are passed from parents to children. People do what they do because this is what the best they know, until you wind up in their shoes, been raised in their families, fought the battles they fought, you can’t understand why they are the way they are. We weren’t born the way we are today, we evolve through our experiences and even culture evolves through time
You can accept people for who they are, and they might still reject you, or may not respond the right away, may not seem like it is doing any good, because people’s hearts might not ready for acceptance and love at the moment, that doesn’t mean that will never be ready. It is fine, you always deal with people the way you are and not as the way they are. The more you plant the seeds of love, the more chances these seeds will grow one day, when the right season comes around. Hate leads to more hate, exclusion and discrimination give birth to anger, frustration and sometimes violence. MLK said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
We feel sometimes we need to convict people, tell them all the things they are doing wrong, all the things they are guilty of, we forget that negative leads negative, we forget that we are not here to judge, we do not need to straighten anybody out, “love and acceptance never fail”, when we value people they give us value back; when we are merciful, kind, understanding, and accepting we can never know whose heart we will touch, whose life we will change.
Human beings have a tendency to look at what they do not have rather than what they have, they look at the differences rather than similarities, and they talk about what they do not stand for instead of sharing what is it that they stand for.
I rather leave a legacy for what I stood for: Accepting and loving people for who they are, forgiving people, and giving second chances, the courtesy I would like to be extended by people to me.
So I do accept you for who you are: Black or white; Hispanic or Middle Eastern; Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Atheist; Gay, transgender or straight; able or disable; old or young; right wing or left wing- in other words, it doesn’t matter to me, even if you draw a box to keep me out, I will draw a bigger box to include us both.
Just think about this world if we loved and accepted each other without expectations and without judgments, so what if others are not your Siamese twin, they are not supposed to be, even if they do not share your principles, values, beliefs and views- we are all human beings looking for the same basics: Love, family, happiness, security and belonging. No matter how different we might look externally or mentally we will always have something in common no matter how small it is. Living things respond to kindness.
Who is to say who is right and who is wrong, in whose book? The only fact that remains is that no one is perfect (not even me), so do not have tunnel vision, do not draw that line in the sand, do not exclude everyone that doesn’t fit your standards, do not focus on the differences and what separates us.
We are different to someone else, we all have accents to someone else, we do not have to see eye to eye so we can accept each other, variety is the essence of life, what matters is the condition of our heart and soul.
So, be the reason, be the tool, be the hand that plants the seed of kindness in other people’s heart, you don’t need to tell them what they’re doing wrong, be that helping accepting hand, acceptance pulls people in.
Remember at one time or another, someone helped you, accepted you for who you are, was kind to you, forgave you – return the favor show the same love and mercy
Before you judge someone get to know them, before you dismiss them listen to their story, there is usually a good reason why people are the way they are, we got to give them room to the process of changing, we don’t help them by judging them, it’s not about meritocracy it is about acceptance.
Give the benefit of the doubt, too often we would judge what we don’t understand, we judge what we fear so we give ourselves a reason why we shouldn’t accept the differences, we do not like change, and we do not like to get out of our comfort zone.
Do not judge someone after a glance, or by their appearance, how many times we look at someone and decide in a split second if we like them or not. Ask yourself would you like or appreciate been treated that way? Acceptance is NOT Tolerance– when you tolerate something you just put up with it, acceptance is different, accepting others is a celebration of who they are, is saying I am no better than you
When you accept others, you bring joy and happiness to your heart, your life will have meaningful relationships either personally or professionally
“He who is different from me does not impoverish me – he enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves – in Man… For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“Let our differences make a difference in the world”
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I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.
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