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Diversity isn’t for the “other” people

When you’re on the inside, it’s easy to think of diversity as mainly for the benefit of the “other people”—you know, so “they” get a chance to be in the room where it happens.

That’s a mistake.

Diversity is really just the sensible thing if we have any self-awareness of our unavoidable bias.

We often use “bias” like it’s a bad word, but it’s really at the core of what it means to be human. We have a limited cognitive field of vision and “bias” is just our name for the resulting blind spots in our knowledge. And those blind spots are so much wider than our field of vision, we’re essentially all walking around blind, cognitively speaking.

Mirror, mirror…

As drivers we learn to use mirrors to increase our field of vision. And even then we don’t have all 360° covered. We need “mirrors” moving through life, too. That’s where other people come in. As an ancient proverb puts it:

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14 ESV)

The goal shouldn’t be to “eliminate” bias. That’s not actually possible. But throwing all the available biases into a giant pot gives us possibly our best chance at having them cancel each other out.

Like the blind men in the old Indian proverb, we get a better picture, not by all coming to the same side of the elephant, but by sharing the view from all our different sides.

It’s time we get over the idea that diversity is a favour to whoever we consider the “other” people. The favour is to ourselves.


Photo by Kelli Tungay on Unsplash


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