Perspectives on Equality & Diversity

Equality Engagement & Development Manager Anthony Anirud gave an insightful presentation about perspectives on equality and diversity.

In our next assignment we’ve been asked to write an essay based on creating an inclusive learning and teaching experience within our subject areas. This session was a great way to understand and discuss equality and diversity in an educational context.

We talked about aspects of identity; which is shaped by values and beliefs.

Beliefs: Something we hold to be true. The lens that informs our choices in life (may come from religion, but not always).

Values: Are ideas that we hold to be important. Govern the way we behave, communicate and interact with others.

Beliefs and values combined determine our attitudes and opinions.

Within the session also discussed culture and its definition. There was some discussion amongst the group as to what culture is, Anthony was able to summarise by saying;

What people think, what people do and the materials they produce.

Acknowledged rules for correct behaviour.

We then went on to discuss the definition of society and how it may differ from culture.

Society was defined as; any group of people living together in a group and constituting a single related independent community.

Society is frequently taken to include entire national communities.

Anthony posed the question is it necessary for our society to be organised in terms of cultures or societies?  This again initiated further debate amongst the group. Observations of our society gives the impression that we sometimes are organised by our culture.

Further reading: Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

Recognising and valuing difference in our broadest since is one definition of diversity. We should accept that each person is an individual with visible and non-visible differences.

Our culture and practices should be based on respect and by valuing difference, which would be at the benefit of everyone.

Anthony then went on to discuss diversity and human rights and how they might differ from each other.

Human rights – Inherent fundamental rights that humans have by fact of being human. Can’t be abrogated by any government.

Diversity – Everything in us and around us that encapsulates the human experience.

Human rights, though inherent, have evolved historically through laws. Diversity has been freed of legal expression.

Diversity is a commitment to recognising and appreciating the variety of characteristics that make individuals unique in an atmosphere that promotes and celebrates individual and collective achievement.” University of Tennessee, Knoxville

For the last part of the session we looked at the four layer model of diversity:

Personality: Likes, dislikes, values and beliefs. These are shaped early in life and is influenced by, and influences the other layers.

Internal dimensions: Includes aspects we have no control over. The layer in which many divisions between and among people exist, forms the core of many diversity efforts.

External dimensions: Aspects over our lives which we have control over. Jobs, friendships, relationships, jobs, education

Organisational dimensions: Work, management status, seniority, work location:

Monocultural organisation: “This is how we do it round here”

Compliant organisation: “What do we have to do to stay out of trouble”

Multicultural organisation: Diverse mix of employees age, sex, gender, race, disabilities.working towards making diversity meaningful. Struggle to achieve and optimise a specific idea of “diversity”.

Inclusive organisation: “Do we have everyone’s input?”

The session with Anthony was very informative and brought to light different opinions and definitions of terms that are so commonly used in large organisations. I can now use the information from the session to inform the next assignment we have been asked to write.

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