Originally published in the CSUMB Office of Inclusive Excellence Fall 2016 Newsletter
In order for diversity and inclusiveness to be more than ubiquitous buzzwords, leaders and managers must strive to create systems and processes that create equality of opportunity for all groups. Too often, those in positions of power make decisions without thinking about creating opportunities for those who are outside of their immediate circles. Too often, opportunities are handed to people we know, people who look like us, people who talk like us and people think like us. For diversity and inclusiveness to truly take hold, those in positions of power must accept some level of responsibility for creating access and opportunity.
In 2014, I wrote an article where I asked if diversity and inclusiveness were really possible. I used an example of a manager asking a colleague if they knew of someone who could fill a position. What was profound about the situation is that this one conversation created access and opportunities for someone without any consideration of diversity and inclusiveness. It is in these situations where valuing diversity matters most. In order for historically marginalized groups to advance in this society, they must have access to economic and social opportunities.
While diversity represents the whole of human experiences and all the differences we manifest, inclusiveness serves to unleash the power of diversity by embracing all the things that make us different. College campuses are powerful institutions, possessing the ability to shape futures and change lives. As such, diversity and inclusiveness play important roles in creating cultures where individuals are capable of reaching their full potential.
As a maturing campus community, I encourage CSUMB leaders to make diversity and inclusiveness central to the way business is done. I encourage leaders to reject the notion that we are incapable of addressing the needs of any minority population due to their relative size. I encourage leaders to develop cultures where ideas about “otherness” are welcome and everyone is valued and respected.
If we fail to accept any of these tenets, diversity and inclusiveness remain ubiquitous buzzwords and fail to reach the level of significance they are capable of achieving.
Photo credit: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).