October is Global Diversity Awareness Month. This celebration is a reminder of the positive impact a diverse culture of people can have on our society. The beginnings of this celebration go back to 1948 when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the General Assembly in Paris, France.
The Declaration represents the first global acknowledgment that we should remember and understand the value of each human being, regardless of nationality, color, race, sex, gender, country of origin, language, or otherwise.
I can’t help but think that if this concept is global knowledge, why does it feel like our society is being torn apart? Why are basic human rights being taken away from our communities of color and other ethnicities all around the world? Why are systems in place that target people based on the color of their skin? Most importantly, how do we change policies that perpetuate systemic racism?
Many of us know the answers, but often feel powerless and silenced, even when we are working toward a better future. What can we do to be part of the solution? Here are a few things I started doing on a personal and professional level:
- Educate. Intolerance is mostly based on fear and ignorance. Learning about historical and current events is helping me understand how we got here.
- Change. Understanding the cause of these issues initiated a change in my perspective and a better understanding of how I have contributed to the problem.
- Become an advocate. By learning about the causes that matter to me, I found ways to support and work for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I). I partner with personal friends and organizations that share the same passion for working for our communities.
- Training. I know these issues are sensitive and difficult to navigate. I recognized the need to train my mind so I can be an ally and help.
- Recognize my own bias. Unconscious bias is in my brain. Years of social conditioning made me complicit with the system. Recognizing this faulty fuse in my head is helping me to change the chip, allowing me to stop myself, think, and correct. Most importantly, I am learning to have difficult conversations, apologize when I make a mistake, and create meaningful connections.
- Support. I participate in events and initiatives that promote DE&I for our community. I promote conversations about the most important issues in our communities of color and other ethnicities with friends, my family, and my colleagues.
- Be an ally. I use my resources to create opportunities in my community. I have a network of champions in diversity and inclusion, so I know who to contact when an individual or a cause needs help.
- Speak up. I have no tolerance for violence, discrimination, racism, or any type of action that could harm another human being. However, there are some actions very difficult to see, like passive comments. As I said before, it is important to train and learn about the perspective of others to be able to understand their struggles and help.
- Work in organizations that promote DE&I. I am proud to work at Quartz. The company’s culture and strategic plan are based on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Quartz has a DE&I Department charged with creating a work environment that is inclusive, welcoming, and culturally diverse. We value the perspectives of all, educate others, show respect for all, serve our community, and evaluate our progress. This month, Quartz announced its Anti-Racism Statement that expresses the company's commitment to serving our communities.
I am acknowledging my responsibility and my contributions that, in the past, were part of the problem. I started by working on myself and being part of the solution. I know that change takes time, but I know in my heart that taking the first step goes a long way. If my small support can help to build better and stronger communities, together we will have a better future.