Diversity is about the difference in people, and if diversity is about people, inclusion is respect for that difference. For fifty-two years, I have lived diversity, being an Indian, British and Swiss woman, and I am convinced that my cultural, geographical circumstances, and life experiences instinctively gave me my reason for my raison d’être and my motivation in life. As a result, throughout my life, I have a deep sense that people, including myself, feel at risk when they do not belong because belonging helps us survive, it helps us thrive, and it has never been truer than in today’s organisations.
Regardless of their ethnicity or gender, age or sexuality, all employees want to be part of a whole, be included, and belong. This real need for belonging is a shared experience, such as the need for food and security. Indeed, Oprah Winfrey concluded from all her interviews on her shows that she saw that whatever their backgrounds, all her guests had one thing in common, “They all wanted validation. They want to know: do you hear me? Do you see me? Does what I tell you to speak to you?”
I encourage people to recognise that we all have very similar needs, concerns, and hopes in my work and my life. Connecting to these “similarities” and validating people is at the heart of all human relationships. This is my passion, my guiding thread and my personal and professional goal. And I consider myself not as an expert but as a guide for this self-examination journey because I have already walked on this path many times and will continue to do so…
Undeniably, the need for a deeper understanding of D&I is more urgent than ever. However, as our world becomes smaller, we are now facing new emerging challenges. What has changed significantly since Hofstede released the first cross-cultural researches in the ’70s is the need to ‘look inward rather than outward.’
You do not have to be an Indian British, Swiss woman to understand diversity and inclusion. D&I is about all of us; it begins with you and me. It’s about our own self-awareness and having a deep understanding of ourselves and then the other. It is a skill that we owe to the business world and humanity as a whole.
If there is one takeaway you take after reading this article, remember it’s not about them. It’s about you. We are responsible, and we are accountable. It starts with us. Let’s begin today.