Diversity is a part of what makes us all different. Regardless of the fact that we are all human, none of us are the same. We each have our own strengths that we can offer the world. We can contribute to profound and long-lasting change. It is crucial for us to adopt an attitude which is supportive of difference, and to focus on abilities rather than deficits.
Mental health issues and medical disability may be classified as forms of human diversity. However, many people dealing with these challenges have been discriminated against or rejected. Sometimes people fear what they don’t know or understand. This ignorance leads to a loss of opportunities. It is not just a loss for people with disabilities, but also for the broader community. People who have overcome adversity demonstrate resilience and courage in their everyday lives. Their inner strength may have a positive influence on other individuals facing tough times and on an organisation’s culture.
We know that inclusive workplaces benefit from higher job satisfaction, lower turnover, higher productivity, higher employee morale, improved creativity and innovation, improved problem solving and increased organizational flexibility (Cox, Taylor, 1997. Developing Competency to Manage Diversity, San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.).
There is still a long way to go until diversity is truly the norm. There are still many obstacles which need to be overcome, and many more things to learn. However, change is slowly occurring. We are moving towards a world where each person is recognized for their gifts and given the opportunity to shine.