Being intentional in learning about equity, inclusion, and diversity

By Dr. MelindaJoy Mingo

Sometimes it may feel like understanding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) or as it is now phrased in some sectors equity, inclusion, and diversity (EID) is just downright confusing!

There are lots of similarities, overlap, and of course differences and nuances within those differences. Then, there is the ever-changing terminology. Just when you feel that you have grasped a concept or term – it changes again. Actually, it can feel easier to just avoid the subject unless absolutely necessary. I understand.

I began the study of diversity and inclusion over 9 years ago during my PhD studies about global leadership. I became fascinated with the study of cultures, race, lifestyles, and social status norms. My fascination led me to a career as a diversity trainer for organizations around the world.

The training has been both challenging and transformative. I quickly realized that diversity training and the term itself began to be equated with `shame and blame’ for certain groups of people. It became increasingly more difficult to engage in a diversity training environment without a lot of push back from participants or they would just politely emotionally disconnect from the training while checking the box that they had taken the training.

I felt that there was a missing piece in helping people intentionally move from fearing any conversation focused on diversity to seeing the conversations as adding value to an organization and personal growth.

The missing pieces were the discussions that also included inclusion and equity. I would like to share a few brief definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • Diversity: Includes but is not limited to race, color, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status, veteran status, education, marital status, language, age, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, genetic information, and learning styles.
  • Equity: The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all while striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically under-served and under-represented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.
  • Inclusion: Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power and ensures equal access to opportunities and resources.

It has been stated that diversity is being invited to the party, Inclusion is being asked to dance at the party, and equity is having a wheelchair ramp where everyone has equal access into the building where the party is being held.

As CASA is dedicated to changing a child’s story by representing the child’s best interest, you as a volunteer are pivotal in that story being changed in a positive way.

The positive impact of equity, inclusion and diversity has so many tangible benefits as you serve children at CASA in the Pikes Peak Region. Some of the benefits include building more trust in the communities where diverse children come from, creating a culture where people really feel a sense of belonging, and there’s a huge attraction of diverse people who want to be part of an organization that values all people.

What are some of your thoughts about the value of being intentional in learning more about equitable practices, inclusion strategies, and active learning about diversity?

CASA is vital to the well-being of children who have no one else to advocate for them. YOU are vital to being a part of the story of adding value to a child’s life.