What does diversity and inclusion mean? There are many different ways people define this. For example, many advocates would remind me that a diversity and inclusion program that doesn’t also help create feelings of belonging among members falls flat. For me, a fully diverse and inclusive environment is one where everyone feels free to be themselves, and is appreciated and understood. Only when we fully understand ourselves and those we seek to interact with, can we truly optimize outcomes.
Unfortunately, many people and programs fall short of high-quality introspection, let alone the ability to understand others and how to better include them. Matters are further encumbered by challenges related to information sharing and safety. Too often, sharing has led to harm rather than help.
As an advocate, I often share more about myself than others are likely to be comfortable doing. This opens me up to potential for harm, ridicule, and other adverse consequences. But it also allows me to use my metacognitive abilities to more fully grow and explore concepts. I can continue in my own self development, as well as my ability to help others, through these learning experiences.
In the context of understanding what diversity and inclusion means to me, gaining a deeper understanding on my own cultural identity has been an important part of my own growth in developing a passion for diversity and inclusion work.
I’m an international mutt and I am glad that my mixed multiracial and multicultural heritage, as well as my lived experiences with neurodiversity and mental health challenges, have allowed me to develop a sensitivity and openness to the needs of diverse groups of stakeholders.
I used to work for a cool company that had a unique way of visually representing how one’s DNA can be traced back to multiple countries. I am sharing it here because I love how, for me, it artistically visualizes the interrelatedness we share, even with people on other continents, through our shared DNA.
Whenever I look at my results, I feel closer to the world as a whole, versus my own insular corner of it. Unfortunately, this company went out of business and I don’t know of a comparable service that shows origin tracing.
Note: a forensic genealogist suggested I point out that there is no way to accurately list percentages, like 5% white, or 5% black – these docs just list the prevalence in high to low ranking of where my DNA has the most matches to samples the company had access to at the time. Plus, as new samples are identified, this might change. If I had access to a larger, newer database now, these numbers might be different.