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Embracing Diversity

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An estimated 100 billion people have been born since the dawn of time. These people

have had different appearances, come from different countries and territories, have

been brought up with different mindsets and have spoken different languages. They

have eaten different food, have had different lifestyles and have belonged to

different generations.

The only sure trait that every single person has had in common is that they were all

unequivocally unique and different.

This is what we call diversity.

 

Embracing Diversity

More and more, we see an emphasis on “accepting and embracing diversity” in both

our professional and personal lives. Socially and politically, there is a huge focus on

eliminating discrimination of any kind and equalizing the treatment of every

individual.

To some, embracing diversity exists only on a surface level. Tolerating and accepting a

different culture, different lifestyle or a different way of thinking is just that –

tolerance. This is by no means negative, but embracing takes much more effort and

much more understanding, and the benefits are much greater as well.

 

Let’s take a deep dive

Every person you have ever walked past, spoken to, befriended or ignored – they have

had a lifetime of experiences that shaped them into who they are today.

Instead of generalising, accepting and tolerating a group of people, assess a person

and interact with them on an individual basis. Ignore the labels that are placed on an

individual (nationality, religion, age, gender) and purely look at the experiences that

have shaped him/her. Understand and appreciate how these different experiences

and upbringings add on to their character.

Put yourself in their shoes and make a connection to their experiences. You don’t

have to love every single difference – just understand and appreciate them.

That is embracing diversity.

 

The Benefits

When we acknowledge these differences, embrace them, and respect them, we can

accomplish what we never thought was possible. We can join ideas together, birthing

from different environments, mindsets and perspectives. We can forge more efficient

teams combining a variety of strengths and experiences. We can be surprised with the

connections we make to a person who is different than us.

Most of all, we appreciate a person so much more after embracing their diversity and

what makes them different – their trials and tribulations. Everyone is different – no

two lives are the same. Sympathize, emphasize and appreciate differences.

 

Putting it into Action

All it takes to be understanding is to start a conversation.

In the next 2 weeks, more than 800 delegates from over 118 countries and territories

will gather in India at AIESEC’s International Congress 2015. We invite you to join us

virtually through our live stream and enjoy conversing with young people from all

over the world.

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