Over the past week, my web clicking fingers led me to an interview on Elle.com with powerful film maker Ava DuVernay who we popularly know as the director and co-writer of Selma.
In her conversation, DuVernay uttered words that boost the potentiality of ruffled feathers depending on which side of the fence you’re on. She said that she hates the word diversity, and from her quote, it irks her:
“I really hate the word ‘diversity.’ Oh, I just don’t like it. It feels like medicine. Diversity is like, ‘Ugh. I have to do diversity.’ I recognize and celebrate what it is, but that word, to me, is a disconnect. There’s an emotional disconnect. Inclusion feels closer; belonging is even closer.”
Although upon first glance I painted her thoughts with the semantics brush but through my experience of being part of the ‘diversity’ group I realize the notable difference between diversity and inclusion:
The diversity hire alludes to employing anyone of colour or from a (previously politically disadvantaged group) into an organization that is predominately of one race or gender (i.e. euphemism for white men) which has worked for some time, but the cracks of ingenuity have shown itself overtime.
After a while, hiring someone out of diversity has much less to do with their real skills but creating an illusion of ‘progressive behaviour’ in growth of a firm.
This speaks coherently to certain races, as least those of African descent who got hired or taken places because they have become the black progressive token of their organization. Becoming the monolith of diversity in their workplace, they get invited to diversity themed conferences, forums and discussions – owning up to being the trophy wife to progression.
And of course behind closed doors their ideas are effortlessly tossed into indifference. (case and point the awkward mansplaining between Matt Damon and Effie Brown).This is because the aspect of diversity simply encourages visibility of a multi-raced organization without consideration of their inclusion in the growth of the entire firm.
The crux of the matter is that there is a strong need to unlearn the teachings of stereotypes which were heavily propagated to different races growing up. We need to unlearn teachings that surround the inferiority and superior complex which has one group of people undermining or overestimating the capabilities of another. So when diversity policies are implemented, companies do not only serve to fulfill these policies as part of a global trend.
Therefore, a policy must be introduced: the inclusion policy, which would detail not only the presence of diverse groups in an organization but also teach on cultural respect, debugging stereotypes and scientifically proving that race does not have an impact to a level of intellect and ability. This policy will present a genuine meaning to diversity, where control and power of a business is not centralized, but its growth dependent holistically on the positive productivity of its workers.