Diversity & Inclusion : how we’re making it worse

Image Credit: Perry Grone : Unsplash

What’s it like to consider that our efforts to make ‘different’ people feel included are taking us away from what we’re trying to achieve?

It’s time to pause. Just notice for a second, and see if what I suggest here has an inkling of truth to it.

We are creating more exclusion in our efforts to include.

What I see in my sphere of the world is people calling out causes that need to be fought for.

I see people defiant and definitive about the change that needs to happen to include those excluded.

I see people jumping in, together, because this seems to be the ‘done thing’ to count ‘me’ as a decent human being. The more emphatic the expression the better.

I saw this tweet from Joan, a lesbian lady, who’s expressing something I’ve seen a few times around Pride this year. How it’s become a bandwagon for organisations to make it look like the ‘right thing’ is being done. A badge of branding, CSR or marketing activity.

This is essentially the same as an individual managing their own brand through their vehement voice of the exclusion they see. What they want to be known for and, not overtly, but somewhere within, a belief of ‘this will make me look good.’

But have you noticed that, as time goes on, there are increasing numbers of ‘others’ to include. Sexual orientation, gender, skin colour, mental health, physical disability, religion, belief system, parental status, marital status, education level, pet ownership status, eating preferences, allergy sufferers, …. Its an HR department minefield!

So many distinctions and differences. Does anyone actually fall into a box that would be called ‘normal’?

Maybe this should prick our ears up to notice that ‘normal’ is non-existent at the physical level.

And also alert us to the nature of staying in exploration in the physical world. Staying here only leads to multiplication and increasing complexity. Think of where phones began and have come to be today. Think of businesses with their processes and systems compared to 30 years ago. Take any field of research or science.

It’s just the nature of things. As we look further and further into something of form we find more and more distinctions, diversities & details*.

Then on discovering these distinctions, diversities & details we judge and sort and allocate into boxes. In doing so creating both sides of the same coin : in my desire to include you I judge those who don’t include you. Exclusion at the very heart of all efforts to include.

And in attempts to include ‘you’ who is different from ‘me’ distance is inadvertently created. Making you ‘other than’ puts you further away from those intended to be welcomed.

Innocently creating more division, more separation, less inclusion.

And, with all of this, all we ever actually experience is a reflection of our own limited mind.

We don’t experience an ‘other’. We experience our idea of an ‘other’ created from the limited stories in our mind.

What now?

And so this is where we need to change strategy from what we have been doing and look to ourselves.

Although it seems gallant and good to be fighting and rallying for causes. If we continue viewing the world from our unexamined, limited mind, all we’re doing is perpetuating the same story over and over. With good guys, bad guys and heroes.

In the absence of looking inward, the number of diversity categories will continue to increase. The expressions of dissatisfaction – including extreme expressions like the recent US shootings** – will continue to surface.

We are chasing our inclusion tails trying to fight against exclusion of some groups with exclusion of other groups. Trying to include others when we don’t even include all of our own self.

There is not enough frustration in the world to make this work.

So what about the opposite?

Shift from frustration to love.

From disconnection to connection.

When people truly engage with ‘others’, all that’s found is that they’re really just like me. The same hopes, dreams and worries, and some different ones but these different ones really explaining why they do what they do. This includes engaging with the ‘others’ who were being judged as bad guys for excluding.

Then drop again beneath this level where there aren’t even hopes, dreams or worries. Where there is no distinction or category of any kind. There is constant. There is quiet. There is peace. And yes, there is love.

Love that heals our hurts from the inside. That guides us to see the exclusion we hold against ourselves in our own mind***. This dissolves those restrictive stories so that, bit by bit, the love that we really are can shine through us to the ‘others’ around us.

Action is then taken from this love. This can look like the traditional ‘soft’ view of love, being caring and inclusive, but it also includes strength, integrity and standing for a cause. Now from a foundation of stability like no other. No insecurity driving the behaviour.

From the outside, we can’t always see the difference between a love-grounded action and a fear-based reaction – the literal words and actions can be identical. But we seem to be able to feel it, receiving the message subconsciously, physically affected by it, even if we have no intellectual awareness of it.

All that is really known for sure is what we feel within ourselves. That’s where to keep looking. When we pause and look inward we can feel the difference between fighting from fear and standing from integrity and love.

So notice when you’re taking a stand, is it from fear or love.

And notice, this ‘other’ you think needs to be included or paid attention to. Pause. Is that someone really you?

From this place, all the inclusion we ever needed is possible because it’s already here.

With love, Helen

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*If you want to explore the spiritual side of increasing complexity in the physical world, watch this conversation between David Eagleman and Sadhguru.

**Check out Russell Brand’s video about the trauma which these gunmen are expressing on behalf of the system.

***If you’re interested in this idea of looking inward to your own mind, take a look at Byron Katie’s The Work as a great place to start.

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