The Oxford Dictionary defines diversity as “the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.”
While this is a great definition, diversity in its truest sense is much broader than this.
In layman’s terms, diversity means understanding that each individual is different and to recognize those differences. These can be along the dimensions of gender, ethnicity, race, age, socio-economic status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or other ideologies.
It is the exploration of these differences in a positive and safe environment.
However, diversity is more than just acknowledging or tolerating differences.
Rather, it is a set of conscious practices that include:
• Acknowledging and understanding the interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment.
• Having respect for qualities and experiences that are different from ours.
• Realizing that personal, cultural, and institutionalized discrimination leads to privilege for some while leading to disadvantages for others.
• Creating alliances across differences so that we can unite and work towards eradicating all types of discrimination.
Thus, diversity includes having the ability to relate to those conditions and qualities that are unlike our own yet are part of other individuals and groups. For instance, these may include gender, age, class, ethnicity, race, physical capabilities, sexual orientation, religious beliefs.
So, to conclude, diversity is a truth created by different types of individuals and groups. It is very important to protect and support diversity – by valuing different kinds of individuals and groups and creating an environment where mutual respect is ingrained, we will develop a cooperative, caring, and success-oriented community that creates innovative solutions from the synergy of its people.