April is Celebrate Diversity Month and we use this time to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us all. I view diversity as the different groups to which we belong and the identities we assume (i.e. gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, religious beliefs, etc.). But that’s really just the beginning…
"Diversity" means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating differences. Diversity goes a step further to include understanding and appreciating the interdependence of humanity and cultures; practicing mutual respect for qualities, experiences and perspectives that are different from our own; and understanding that diversity embodies not only ways of being, but also ways of knowing.
When I look around me, I see diversity in so many aspects. It’s these variations that make our world vibrant and alive, filled with people exhibiting different skin colors, celebrating different religions and cultural practices, speaking different languages and expressing themselves in a wide range of mediums. There are also attributes of our identities that are not able to be seen externally, but are just as important to understand as we interact with one another. When looking at someone, I don’t know their gender identity, sexual orientation, belief system or physical or mental abilities. These aspects of diversity also impact our perspectives and experiences with the people around us and they are far more subtle than the more outward traits we can see. Many of us have learned this first-hand during the Covid-19 pandemic as we’ve struggled, or watched a loved one struggle, with mental health related to this global crisis.
This month, I encourage you to commit to at least one activity to recognize and celebrate diversity! Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Visit a museum exhibition dedicated to another culture
- Learn about another religion
- Support diverse businesses in your community
- Host a multicultural movie night with friends or family
- Listen to music from around the world
- Explore local ethnic restaurants and try food from a culture you’ve never tasted before
- Engage in a learning opportunity focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) topics
A commitment to learning something new from the many peoples and cultures in the world goes a long way in expanding our understanding of one another. This learning mindset can carry the spirit of Celebrate Diversity Month beyond April and create a space where diversity is perpetually recognized and celebrated. I’ll leave you with these incredible words on embracing diversity…
“And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.” – Amanda Gorman
Erin Doan is the diversity, equity and inclusion director for Vizo Financial. She is responsible for developing and implementing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and community involvement strategies and programs that foster an environment of inclusivity and collaboration amongst staff, business partners and natural person credit unions. Erin has held various roles with the Corpoate since 2002 and is a Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE).