Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a behavior. Belonging is the emotional consequence people want in those they interact with, the communities they live in, or the organizations they work for. When inclusion is created at workplaces, and belongingness promoted, people feel accepted for who they are. Diversity, inclusion, and belonging must exist together to build a culture that accepts people in neighborhoods or workplaces.
Understanding the significance of a diverse and inclusive society can inspire us to prevent ignorance and hate from spreading. The great Indian leader and freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi said, “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”
We live in diverse communities, work with diverse people, meet and interact with people from different cultures at community meetings, grocery stores, conferences, schools, and educational institutes. But we are still naturally susceptible to gravitating towards people like us and those are the people we are inclined to support and promote.
Though we see more representation in politics, educational institutes, and the entertainment industry, more work is needed to create an inclusive community of leaders, top to bottom, across various elected positions and in boards and commissions, to support representation, inclusiveness, and a sense of belonging.
As a self-identified minority woman and a mother, I care about this topic. As parents, my husband, Sudeep, and I feel confident about our kids being accepting of all cultures because of the diverse community we live in. Our sons, Akshaj and Atiksh, are witness to strong friendships in families from different backgrounds and cultures. As immigrant parents, this community has enhanced our self-awareness to gain insights into our own life experiences and values, as we learn from those whose backgrounds and experiences differ from ours.
We are lucky to send our kids to a very diverse school. My fellow moms and I have worked together and created a partnership between the schools and families. We realize this is an integral part of inclusion and helps children reach their developmental potential.
As a parent, I have come to the realization that embracing diversity and inclusion, which promotes belongingness, can empower kids to engage in the world with confidence and kindness. They learn empathy and understanding from interacting and working with people different from them. This will undoubtedly make them grow into compassionate, well-rounded adults, and our future communities and workplaces will be better. I feel that this will be our best gift for this generation, and for those to come.
Sumiti Mehta is the author of ‘A Campaign That Won Hearts and Not Votes’. She serves on Sacramento city’s YPCE Commission and several NUSD Committees. Mehta is also on OnCore Consulting’s staff as Recruiting and Proposal Writing Specialist.