Jim Dabrowski

Follow @jimdab on Micro.blog.

Thoughts on DEI

Today I was asked a question about how important Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is in the workplace. And while I think I did OK answering it, my feelings on the matter are a bit more complex and I wanted to take some time to write them out.

We all grow up in a culture. By that I mean all the things we’re told are right and wrong, good and bad, the right way to dress, the wrong way to behave, etc. All these lessons come from a variety of sources: our immediate families, extended families, the television, the friends we hang out with, the churches we attend even the country in which you grew up and even the region within that country. As we grow up, we incorporate all these concepts into our being. They shape how we think and how we feel. This is all perfectly normal.

However, the cultures we’re in change. Sometimes they change because we move. Maybe to another country, or to another region within our country. Maybe you change churches or change friends. When we do that, we’re exposed to different cultures. But even if we stay put and never leave our home town, the culture there still changes over time. The things that used to be “right” are now “wrong” and some of the things that used to be “wrong” are now “acceptable”. I’m sure everyone reading this can already think of examples of this they’ve experienced in their lifetime. Again, this is normal.

The thing is, most, or maybe all, of those things we grew up with, that we’ve incorporated into our belief system as being the right way or the wrong way of doing things or behaving, or looking aren’t absolutes. They’re a product of the culture we grew up in at the time we grew up in it. The culture of today, that is shaping the lives of children right now, is no better or worse than the one I grew up in. It’s just different.

And here’s the thing, my goal is to be accepting and tolerant of those people who grew up in different cultures because their way of doing things isn’t wrong or bad simply because its different from what I grew up with, it’s just different. And I hope their goal is to be tolerant and accepting of me because the culture I grew up in is different from theirs.

This, in my opinion, is why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is so important, not just in the workplace, but in our lives. By being exposed to different people with different thoughts, different behaviors, different clothes, different skin tones, we start to grow as human beings. We start to learn a different perspective. It doesn’t mean we’ll adopt those other perspectives, or behaviors, or dress but we can if we want to. We may learn different ways of looking at situations. Be exposed to different ways of doing things. Expand our minds and our horizons to become better, more tolerant people.

To me, this is why DEI initiatives are so important in the workplace, in college admissions, in our communities, in our elected officials. The more exposure we get to different ideas, the better we become as people.