What is Diversity and How it can Benefit Us
The word diversity can invoke different feelings in each of us. The word means “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas etc” or can mean “the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.” (Merriam Webster, 2022).
It is somewhat of a broad term, at its core, it is the symphony of differences manifesting the exquisiteness and originality of song. Our differences create beauty and allure in this world. Individuals of different ages, gender identities, ethnicities, races, convey the depth and breadth of our humanity.
The wisdom of an elder, the laughter of a child, reminding us of the importance of presence in moments of joy and pain. In understanding diversity, our eldest teacher, Earth, demonstrates the strength, prosperity, and sustenance of diversity in all its forms. The planet itself is vastly interdependent in an extensively diverse way.
Ecosystems, consisting of immensely diverse life ranging from single cell organisms to vast forest systems with underground interconnected root systems that communicate and aid each other. Above ground, these forest systems contain an array of insect, plant and animal life (Wohlleben, 2016). How remarkable, the ability for such different entities to create a sustainable system benefiting other systems as highlighted in a research study in Japan.
Marine chemist, Katsuhiko Matsunaga at the Hokkaido University discovered leaves fallen from the forest into rivers and streams, leach acids into the ocean which stimulates the growth of plankton, a primary oceanic food source, meaning more marine life and fish for fishermen (Robbins, 2012). This highlights some of the beneficial and sustaining impacts of diversity, In the business sector, diverse groups boost greater creativity, better decision making, and more opportunities for professional growth (Stahl, 2021).
Diversity for our Survival
Diversity is beneficial for our survival as humans, where a lack of genetic diversity as demonstrated through the inbreeding occurring among Royal lines, point to high rates of mortality, poor health and genetic disorders (Alvarez et.al.,2009).
Diversity asks us to look at what makes up the dimensions of ourselves and other people. This begins with examining the diverse parts of our own identity and our feelings around those. Recognizing, as we have more experiences with different cultures and people, our own sense and view of self begins to shift. Interacting with diverse people, gives us an opportunity to challenge old outdated and limiting belief systems.
In understanding diversity, examining feelings about oneself, can often help create a better understanding of others and their struggles. Individuals who have different, gender identities, physical abilities, educational backgrounds, marital statuses, all view the world in a different way and like the forest, those worldviews can benefit the world in dramatic ways.
Diversity and connection is such a part of existence, there is a question around the very idea of separation. Experiments in quantum entanglement suggest separation does not exist between an object and space (Gisin, 2014). This theory proposes we are not separated from each other or anything at all for that matter. We seem to be one flowing wave of consciousness expressing itself in varied forms and existences.
Embracing more diversity in life
In order to create more opportunities for diversity, there must first be a willingness to step outside one’s comfort zone. This first step can be difficult, but recognizing discomfort is pivotal toward change. Learning to manage the discomfort of trying something different can be an immense payoff.
This can look like:
- Attending a cultural event in order to understand and learn more.
- Seeing a movie about or starring someone from a group that is unfamiliar to you.
- Having a conversation with a friend, partner, colleague or even child about an aspect of their identity you do not know or understand.
- Attend a company training or presentation on diversity or join a diversity and Inclusion group as an ally.
- Read books by authors from different groups
- Read books in order to better understand the history behind diverse groups and impact of harmful ideas generated about these groups.
Most importantly, listen to how you feel as you do these things, in order to understand how you have been conditioned to feel about any group. Learning how to manage feelings around ideas we have been conditioned to believe, can go a long way in helping to bridge gaps and create a deeper understanding of diverse individuals.
Dr. Africa L Rainey
Alvarez G, Ceballos FC, Quinteiro C (2009) The Role of Inbreeding in the Extinction of a
European Royal Dynasty. PLOS ONE 4(4): e5174. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005174
Gisin, N. (2014). Quantum Chance: Nonlocality, Teleportation and Other Quantum Marvels. Springer International
Merriam Webster. (2022). Diversity Definition & Meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from
Robbins, J. (2012, April 11). Opinion | Why Trees Matter. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04
Stahl, A. (2021, December 17). 3 Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace. Forbes. Retrieved February 4, 2022, from
Wohlleben, P. (2016). The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World
(J. Billinghurst, Trans.). David Suzuki Institute.