When’s the last time you had a cup of coffee or even a conversation with someone who doesn’t look like you or live in your zip code?
It’s probably been a while because you stick with the traditional route. The one you’re comfortable with — the one that doesn’t challenge or create ripples in the comfort of your world.
This country has the most diverse population in the world, yet so many people don’t even try to get to know anyone who may be different from them.
Sure, there are diversity posters in most break rooms across the office. There’s Diversity Week, where you get to meet the people in your office, only to forget about them when the grand celebration is done. I almost forgot about Martin Luther King’s birthday. You celebrate that too. Good for you — feel better now?
On the surface, there are loads of superficial attempts to create an atmosphere of inclusion. But they are only a means to give the company the appearance of making change, when in actuality, you never feel those shifts taking hold. It also gives you a “hall pass” for not doing anything yourself. Going to the event and signing in is easy. “SEE I went,…”
In this century, being able to relate to people who are different from us is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. Especially with the global market at everyone’s fingertips.
Diversity isn’t a punishment. It’s a foundation on which success is built… if we don’t teach each other to seek out people that are different from them, to embrace the openness that comes from getting to know people that are of a different color, race, sex, religion or who may even love different than us, then we’re doing them a disservice that will impact all of us.
Just like everyone else standing in line with you at Starbuck’s, the ideas on diversity keep on coming. Daydreams of big events and committees putting them together, as you bask in the glow of the kudos thrown your way because you did your part to create a better working environment for your colleagues this month by celebrating MLK’s birthday.
But more ideas are useless at this point.
It’s the whole-hearted execution of said ideas that changes the world. And if your ideas aren’t coming from your heart or the intention to make them stick beyond your event, then so what. You’re doing nothing but wasting yours and everyone else’s time.
The distance between ideas and success is action. And action? Begins with getting comfortable in your own skin, solidifying your own beliefs, then challenging yourself.
Go the distance this year. What will you do specifically to be more inclusive? Who can you help?
Get to know the people in your office who you have been walking by for years without even as much as a hello. Spend time with them. Listen to them. Understand who they are and WHY they are the way they are and without judgment.
To go the distance and make change happen on an emotional level, you have to know yourself, get to know others, and accept them for who they are.
Are you willing to go that distance?
I hope so.