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
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.
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
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.
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.