How Important Is Diversity to You?
By Heyward Watson
As the Lead of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Strategy Team for Third Sector Company (TSC), I am always thinking about diversity and what it means. I believe that diversity is a complex subject and grasping the ramifications of it depends on your views and experience with it in its various contexts.
Third Sector Company has an Equity Statement that I try to keep in the forefront of my life so that it is interwoven in all that I do as a Senior Strategist. Keeping an equity lens prioritized and using it to bring analysis and a fresh approach to all the activities of nonprofit leadership is a challenge in this busy world, and yet it is important.
Before I explain why it is important, I want to provide a definition of diversity as it applies to the social justice arena.
According to Craven Community College, “diversity means understanding that each individual is unique and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.”
I believe that diversity of thought is one thing that should be considered when conversations about diversity occur. What about the diversity of human behavior within society, and the unique experiences that individuals have which bring specific impacts or perspectives to their lives? I think behaviors within groups are another aspect of diversity that is not talked about on a regular basis. An example is my personal family of black people. The hue of the people within my family is diversified. The color diversity within the family does not affect our closeness.
Did you know that diversity is unofficially celebrated during the month of April? This holiday started in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us all. The hope is that by celebrating differences and similarities during April, people will get a deeper understanding of each other.
I know that diversity can mean many things to us differently, and I work to be open-minded enough to understand that those differences will allow us to be heard, understood, and respected. I believe that we all want a life that feels like we made a contribution to society in some way. For many of us, it is why we are involved in nonprofit causes at the professional or volunteer level in the first place.
Therefore, it is important that the concept of diversity within our society be allowed to provide each person in our society the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. As nonprofit leaders, I hope this month that we remember to celebrate differences and similarities while providing opportunities to make dreams come true throughout our communities.
Senior Strategist, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access
Third Sector Company, Inc.
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