No matter where you live or work, things are evolving in life. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are taking center stage to emphasize equality. This nation is taking bold strides to ensure everyone feels a sense of pride and non-partiality wherever life may take them. More importantly, there is a collective embrace of the center of who we are.
As an African-American woman, I’m a benefactor of the changes we’re all seeing in society—I feel heard and seen in an empowering way. It’s nice to know the determination and drive of our ancestors continue to bear fruit.
If you examine the growth of the human race throughout time, there has been one consistent aspect—not understanding a group of people enough to appreciate them completely.
We have called it ignorance, prejudice, misunderstanding, bigotry, or hate. We need to consider what’s happening around us at face value. Sometimes, people just don’t understand other people. And, you know what? That’s okay.
If someone wants to learn about another group of people, observe them if you wish. Rather, ask. Spend time with others. Buy them lunch. Become their friends. That’s celebrating diversity the correct way—by acknowledging their humanity every day.
We are Human
I believe without reservation that diversity is a byproduct of humanity. It’s essential never to forget we are human beings who happen to be all these other beautiful things. We all belong to subsets of people. From where we work to what we do, who we know, or how we celebrate, those differences require choice and understanding. As we watch, look and listen, we should all be determined to learn. It’s being human that connects us all.
More than 15 years ago, the Harvard Business Review created something that stressed that point. It was called a “Charter for Humanity at Work,” and it is even more important to read today. The author of the article offered eight tenets every person should do:
• Remain mindful of your impact on others
• Stay honest in your dealings
• Respect differences: put yourself in others’ shoes
• Keep your promises
• Listen before you speak
• Be kind
• Help each another
• Do your best
I hope that we all notice the one peculiar thing about those notes for people in the workforce—there is no mention of race, gender, creed, sexual orientation, age, or faith. It’s not forgotten. There’s just another point the author of this article says poignantly, “Humanity is the great leveler.”
Humanity is the great leveler: it precedes values and beliefs, culture and norms, nationality, race, religion, gender, lifestyle, education, class, and sexual orientation. When we focus on humanity, we see that we are all interdependent — and that diversity is a living expression of difference rather than a divisive and complex force to be managed.Gill Corkindale, Executive Coach, Former Management Editor of Financial Times
That is a remarkable statement about humanity. Who we become is a journey that takes a lifetime, but who we are when we first get here is the same. We’re all human. We all have a story to tell. So, why can’t we all listen? Life is full of surprises, and most of those have a face, a personality, and a heartbeat.
Every person on Earth deserves that recognition—our diversity gives us individuality, but our humanity connects us all.