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From Gesture to Action: Rethinking Recognition for True Diversity

Ever wondered about the impact of recognition months for under-appreciated groups?

This question has been on my mind for some time now. While these dedicated months aim to raise awareness and honor the contributions of under-appreciated communities, they often seem like a superficial nod, leaving me to question their effectiveness.

At its core, it raises a fundamental question: why, despite these dedicated months, do these communities still face marginalization? There are several reasons why these efforts have limited impact on resulting in substantial change:

1. Perfunctory Acknowledgment: Monthly recognition can sometimes become routine, offering a token of recognition without substantial efforts to address the deeper issues faced by these communities. This is likely to be perceived as tokenism by many as superficial gestures without a commitment to inclusion.

2. Reinforcing Otherness: By segregating these celebrations into designated months, it inadvertently reinforces the sense of "otherness" rather than including these diverse cultures and experiences into the fabric of society.

3. Potential for Complacency: Designated months might create an illusion of progress, leading to complacency in addressing ongoing societal inequities throughout the rest of the year. This can hinder continuous efforts for change when cloaked in the idea that "we are already working on building an inclusive environment."

4. Divisiveness and Limitations: While meant to foster unity, these perfunctory recognitions can unintentionally create divisions by highlighting differences rather than emphasizing common ground.

The appropriation of celebrations and customs without genuine integration only adds to the complexity of this issue. While cultural acceptance and appreciation can have positive effects, it also carries the risk of further marginalizing the very groups it intends to celebrate.

Adopting celebrations and customs without fully understanding the values and meaning behind them can result in a shallow understanding of the culture being acknowledged. It is crucial to move beyond superficial acknowledgment towards genuine respect, understanding, and inclusion.

To truly empower under-appreciated groups, it requires systemic changes, particularly in workplaces where diversity and inclusion initiatives are pivotal. Despite the fact that diverse environments offer numerous benefits, including better decision-making and innovation, under-appreciated groups often face significant barriers, from biases and stereotypes to a lack of support and inclusive policies.

Steps Corporations Can Take to Cultivate Inclusion:

1. Year-Round Celebrations of Diversity: Beyond specific months, weave diversity and inclusion into the fabric of your corporate culture. Regular events and activities can honor various cultures and perspectives throughout the year.

2. Embed Inclusion in Policies: Ensure that policies and practices mirror your commitment to inclusion. Fair hiring practices, equitable opportunities, and supportive policies are pivotal in fostering a workplace where everyone feels respected and valued.

3. Promote Diverse Leadership: Actively encourage and support individuals from under-appreciated groups to step into leadership roles. Mentorship and guidance create a leadership landscape that mirrors the diversity of the emerging workforce.

4. Embrace and Support Employee Diversity Groups: Employee resource groups are powerful agents of change. These groups provide platforms for sharing experiences and insights, contributing to a more inclusive environment.

5. Continual Learning and Understanding: Encourage ongoing education on diversity and inclusion for all employees. Create an environment where diverse perspectives are appreciated.

6. Support Diverse Suppliers: Extend the commitment to diversity beyond the workforce by collaborating with businesses owned by under-appreciated groups. This step supports diversity within the company and across business partnerships.

7. Foster Open Conversations and Accountability: Promote open dialogue about diversity and inclusion. Establish accountability mechanisms to regularly assess and refine efforts towards creating a more inclusive workplace.

8. Collaborate for Wider Impact: Engage with external organizations to advocate for inclusion and share best practices. Contribute to a broader movement for diversity and equity by participating in industry-wide initiatives.

9. Listen Actively and Respond: Encourage an environment where feedback is valued. Act upon the insights provided to adapt and improve your approach towards inclusion.

10. Continuous Growth and Adaptation: Understand that fostering inclusion is an ongoing journey. Regularly evaluating your progress and making necessary adjustments ensures your commitment remains steadfast.

While I wholeheartedly support the idea of dedicating months to under-appreciated communities, the perfunctory nature of these acknowledgments often falls short. Instead of confining our celebration to a specific month, strive to promote diversity and inclusion every day of the year.

Our collective goal needs to be a commitment to creating a society where everyone is respected regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic. This way, we can build a fairer and more equitable society for all.

I would love to engage in a dialogue on this topic. What are your thoughts? Do you share similar sentiments or have differing perspectives? Let's start a conversation and work towards a more inclusive society together.

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