Diversity: What is it?

Contributed by Anisha Dewan

Today, the term diversity is everywhere: diversity initiatives, polls, quotas, committees, panels, dialogues; we are surrounded by it. The almighty Google defines diversity as, “the state of being diverse; variety” or “a range of different things.” So, what does diversity really mean?

Diversity has become synonymous with variance in races or ethnicities. And yet, diversity means much more. What I truly value about diversity is when we’re diverse or similar in our thinking and recognize it. What do I mean by this? What I mean is that when one thinks about diversity, it isn’t only about the box we check off for ourselves repeatedly on applications, opinion polls, or in our doctors’ offices. Instead, even if we look the same, it is about how you think differently than me (and we both can learn from it); even if we look the same, it is about how our experiences differ (and we both can learn from it); or even if we look different, how our experiences and the way we think are similar (and we both can learn from it)! See a pattern? Ultimately, all this noise about diversity isn’t only to highlight our differences in order to attempt equal opportunity, but to learn from our similarities and differences so that we can understand each other, communicate with each other, and continue to build a society that can leverage all of us.

At our last GMM, we had a panel comprised of diverse, but actively involved and accomplished women from across Anne Arundel County that led a robust dialogue on diversity. We are very grateful to our panelists for sharing their thoughts and experiences, especially since they dispensed some great insights such as “inclusion is a learning experience” and learn to “trust and build relationships” despite differences.

The holiday season is a good time to be thankful for everyone and everything we have in our lives no matter how similar or divergent; to reflect on all the diversity we have encountered this year and to learn from it.