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Inclusion of minorities in the community

Understanding Diversity and Inclusion

Introduction to Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity is a broad term that refers to the variety of differences among people. Often used within the context of culture, education, organizations or workplaces, for the purpose of this course it will be used to refer to differences among individuals and groups.
Diversity among people can exist along a number of dimensions which include, but are not limited to race, ethnicity, cultural traditions, age, gender, religion, place of origin, citizenship, geographical location, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, educational background, literacy, income or economic status, work experience, and marital, parental or family status.
If an organization is inclusive, or practices inclusiveness, it means that it understands, accepts and respects diversity. It includes and actively involves people who are reflective of the diverse groups represented within its community. Such involvement relates to the development and practice of policies, services and programming that are both appropriate and relevant to these different groups, as well as an organizational commitment to eliminating barriers for ongoing participation.
An inclusive organization not only recognizes diversity, but also embodies it. This means acknowledging the worth of every individual and their value to their community and to society at large.

Diversity and Inclusion

Introduction

Community organizations play a vital role in society and are the foundation of local democracy. Every day, across the country, community groups make our world a better place to live, work and play. “These organizations deliver social services, direct housing coops and condominiums, offer cultural, educational and recreational programs, and advocate on behalf of business and neighbourhood concerns. Some are small groups with limited mandates; others are large agencies providing a complex mix of programs and services.”(1) These organizations are guided by boards of directors, advisory groups or councils made up of individuals who have taken on the responsibility for decision making.
Despite the array of organizations and groups working to enhance community well being, there are segments of the population that are often ignored or overlooked when it comes to decision-making. To be successful, community organizations must reflect the needs and views of all members, users and stakeholders in their communities: “the strength of their decision-making lies in their ability to be representative and inclusive”.(2)

Diversity and Inclusion

There are many reasons why such groups may not have been engaged in planning and making resolutions within community organizations. Sometimes people are limited in their capacity or ability to connect with and participate in organizations due to real or perceived barriers. These barriers may exist based on factors such as differences in:
• ethno-racial background, • religious and faith-based beliefs,
• financial status, • gender,
• education level, • sexual orientation,
• physical or mental ability, • age,
and other socioeconomic circumstances. In other instances, community organizations have not been able to engage particular groups due to misconceptions or an uncertainty about how to bridge communication and cultural gaps. Yet, there are also many success stories about organizations that have successfully included previously excluded groups in their decision-making processes, and about traditionally marginalized individuals who have made significant contributions to their communities.

Diversity and Inclusion

Individuals often benefit significantly from their participation in community organizations. Involvement in a community organization can provide a person with increased technical, communication and leadership skills, opportunities for networking, employment references, social contact, and information about other community resources, emotional support and increased self-esteem. It may even lead to paid employment and new friendships. For some, it may be a stepping stone to other types of community involvement; for example, many local politicians started their public life by volunteering in community organisations.
A healthy community supports diversity and pro motes equitable inclusion for all, throughout its social, economic, political and cultural dimensions. One of the cornerstones of healthy communities is wide participation in planning and decision-making. People of all backgrounds and socioeconomic circumstances have concerns and ideas about creating healthy communities. They not only want to be heard and participate in processes that affect their lives and the communities in which they live, but they also have a right to do so. Moreover, people feel valued when their particular gifts, abilities and challenges are recognized; when they have opportunities for growth and development; when they are involved and engaged in community activities; and when all of their basic needs are met.


Diversity and Inclusion

Organizations and marginalized groups can gain much from working together. On the one hand, some groups lack the necessary resources and networking opportunities to ensure that they are heard and that their ideas are reflected at the community level. On the other hand, many community organizations that are sincerely interested in involving a wide spectrum of the community lack the information and innovation required to connect in a positive way. By developing strategies that promote inclusion, community organizations become better equipped to respond to individual and community based needs. And increasing the diversity of staff, members and volunteers in community organizations will have a positive impact on the individual, the organization and, potentially, the community as a whole.
To be truly effective, community based organizations must educate themselves about issues of race, ethnicity, class, economic status, sexual orientation, age, gender and disability. They must not only accommodate and respond to those who show interest, but also actively seek out others who might have the motivation to become involved. Often an organization can provide greater access and accommodation to others by simply altering the perspective and understanding of its existing members. By wearing a “diversity and inclusion lens,” members of a community organization can improve their vision.


Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion
Organizations need to help create and promote unbiased attitudes, beliefs, policies and procedures as well as identify and eliminate discriminatory behaviours, structures and practices. As they develop new and shared ways of understanding diversity and inclusion, they will be able to use this understanding as the basis for action. By taking action and creating change within community organizations, not only do these organizations become more equitable and accessible, but they can also become true leaders in their fields.


Diversity and Inclusion

Issues and Challenges

The main issues and challenges faced when addressing diversity and inclusion are:
• Changing Demographics
• Diversity and Difference
• Exploring Difference, Power and Privilege
• Barriers to Equitable Access

Rationale for Inclusion
An understanding of following areas will help you develope an inclusive community.
• Principles and Assumptions
• Why Inclusiveness Is Necessary
• Organizational Benefits
These areas will be covered in this module.

Inclusion of minorities in the community

End of Unit:
Understanding diversity and inclusion
- Introduction to Diversity and Inclusion
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