In a previous article, we discussed the importance of diversity in the workplace. Yet in order to reap the benefits of having a diverse workforce, there is a need to take proactive actions and attitudes by being inclusive towards the people we work with.
Such actions and attitudes can be applicable in school and university as you encounter and interact with fellow students of various ages, races, gender identities, sexual orientations, disabilities, socio-economic statuses and many others, especially those who might otherwise be excluded or marginalised.
While we live in a global, diverse population that is increasingly being acknowledged, it’s important to perceive inclusion as a life value and a mindset that we should instil within ourselves rather than a goal to reach.
As quoted by the New Brunswick Association For Community Living:
“Inclusion is about people gaining ‘social acceptance’, having positive interactions with one’s peers and being valued for who they are. As such, it must be ‘internally motivated’ and stem from embracing the belief that all people have value and the right to belong. Inclusion values diversity and allows for the real opportunity for people (both with and without disabilities) to have meaningful relationships.”
Here are some benefits of being inclusive during your studies and beyond:
When people exclude others who seem ‘strange’ compare to them and their cliques constantly, it can fuel discrimination, including acts of bullying. Bullying itself can be detrimental to the physical, mental and emotional health of those affected, no matter how young they can be.
By being inclusive, you take the first step to learn more about these ‘strangeness’ of others, whether by asking questions, conduct your own research or talking to them. In time, such exposure will allow you to accept or at least tolerate them for their differences more readily.
See the Person First
The more time you spend with the various individuals you meet and the more you include them in your circle of people, the more likely you’ll see, understand and empathise others as who they are.
This can be especially impactful when you encourage them to open up and tell their own authentic stories within a psychological ‘safe space’, where you have the chance to shift your perspective on them beyond their disabilities, social classes and every other dimension of diversity.
Build Positive Self-Image
Practising inclusion on your part will help others to perceive themselves more positively. With a healthy self-esteem, they in turn can build positive relationships with others, realise their potential for growth and build appreciation and respect towards themselves, among many other benefits.
Make a Change for the Better
Having an inclusive mindset doesn’t just allow you to treat people better in your social life once you complete your studies. It also gives you the opportunity to create new ideas that lead to positive changes as you pursue your career afterwards.
It’s worth noting that practising inclusion will take time, effort and patience, starting with yourself and how aware, open and well-informed you are on the matter.
It’ll also involved improving yourself, whether in the way you communicate, the tendency to assume or stereotype, or even whether you’re aware of your own privileges.
But as long as you are committed to the process and you allow yourself to test your cultural and personal beliefs, having a sense of inclusion from your time in school will prepare you better for your forthcoming working life, no matter which career field you opt for.