Personalizing Diversity 1

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Competency: Personalizing Inclusion and Diversity

“You must truly understand what makes you do things or feel things. Until you have been able to face the truth about yourself, you cannot be really sympathetic or understanding in regard to what happens to other people.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt, civil rights and human rights leader and wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States

What Does Personalizing Inclusion and Diversity Mean?

Simply stated, diversity means all of the differences that exist within people create an environment where all employees might feel accepted and that their differences are embraced to help the organization become more effective and efficient. However, in order for us to understand diversity and begin to be inclusive, we must first examine ourselves and know who we are.

Indeed one of the greatest challenges we face in life is the search for meaning and understanding what life is about. What are we really here to do? The first step in being open to diversity and inclusion is coming to understand yourself better, your socialization and influences on your own thinking, attitudes and behaviors. Beginning to ask yourself those questions helps to humanize all of our interactions, in order to know that we’re more than our work assignments.

According to diversity expert Mary-Frances Winters, this search is meaningless unless examined relative to something or someone else. “We do not live unto ourselves but rather we are connected to all living beings in some way or another. Examining and gaining greater understanding of those interconnections leads to greater self-knowledge, the ability to co-exist harmoniously with others, and the capability to respect and value differences,” Winters asserts.

It is through the quest for self-understanding that we explore the plethora of human differences and learn to be comfortable with ourselves and others. Self-understanding should lead to self-acceptance, which is necessary in order for us to accept others. Valuing self is a prerequisite to valuing others. Without understanding self, it’s more difficult to find commonalities that would make the advertising industry more inclusive and more effective in its messaging.

Likewise it is necessary to understand that all language possesses power and that all communication is cultural. Therefore, we must understand the culture from which we communicate and the power we each possess through our language.

Why Is Personalizing Inclusion and Diversity Important?

Despite much advancement, we still live in a world of intolerance, bigotry and hate. Every person carries prejudices and stereotypes about others, and they are mostly negative. Our beliefs and values are a part of who we are. When we commit to opening ourselves to change, we are in essence committing to take a critical look at our beliefs and values. Why do I believe as I do? What experiences have led me to these beliefs? What if I believed otherwise about this individual or this group?

“An inclusive world is only possible if each of us is willing to examine our hearts, shed narrow perceptions, seek out opportunities to experience difference, and commit ourselves to continual learning.” –Mary-Frances Winters

Without self-examination, we can easily fall prey to inadvertent stereotypical advertising and inadvertent exclusion of others. Our positions within advertising have power within society and within our companies. Understanding how we obtained those positions, our struggles and privileges will help the organization succeed and the sell products and services to wider markets.

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