By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge. Raising our hand high and choosing to speak up for equality.
Equality, diversity, inclusiveness, equity – powerful words that we hear used regularly. Sometimes interchangeably.
But what do these words actually mean and how can we demonstrate them?
Verna Myers suggests that diversity is like being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance.
Diversity and inclusion are therefore two very different things.
Diversity is the things that make us different.
It could be our race, gender, sexuality or religion.
Inclusion on the other hand, is the choice that we make about how we each respond to the incredible diversity that surrounds each of us.
The simplest way that I have heard it explained is to think of diversity and inclusion like making a cake.
Diversity is all of the ingredients necessary to make the cake.
The milk, sugar, flour – each of them very different yet all very important.
Inclusion is making the mix work.
The ultimate value is when all of these ingredients are mixed together in the right proportions so that the cake tastes great.
We want people to enjoy (and admire) our latest creation!
It is the same with inclusion.
Just like the ingredients in a cake, recognising individuality and uniqueness is key to creating inclusive environments where diversity can be celebrated.
Understanding equality and equity is also important.
If we remain with the cake analogy, equality happens when we mix the ingredients together in the same way.
Equity is recognising the difference in the ingredients, respecting them for their unique characteristics and treating them individually.
We do this, not because one ingredient is more important than the other, but because each ingredient is different.
Milk must be kept in the fridge.
Dropping an egg will cause it to break.
Adding plain flour instead of self-raising flour will stop your cake from rising.
Focusing on the special characteristics of each ingredient, the use of each ingredient and how it responds to the other ingredients.
This is what makes a cake taste great.
When we apply this same principle to people, then and only then will inclusion occur at a level that benefits other people and recognises their greatness.
One ingredient does not make a cake.
An individual cannot be inclusive if they are not willing to mix with others.
Inclusion is a choice.
Put your hand up on 8 March.
Choose to speak up for equality and reach out to those around you to celebrate the amazing diversity that exists within our community.