Planet Meet E02: Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity

How do we learn, work and grow at places which include and provide equal opportunities to everyone regardless of their sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, nationality, personality, marital status, socioeconomic status, religion, belief, or age? In the second episode of Earthr.org’s Planet Meet, we talked about Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity with the people of Chandigarh.

Biases are the stories we make up about people before we know who they actually are. From the day we are born, we are subjected to conscious, subconscious and unconscious biases. We are told to stay away from black people, talk/behave differently with our domestic help, call blonde women dumb, choose to reserve admission at workplaces, neighbourhoods and academic institutions based on physical appearances or ethnic backgrounds, build architectures which are not accessible, ergonomic or inclusive for everyone, or even stereotyping the roles/responsibilities of men and women in the society. But if we’re always told to avoid and be afraid of some people, how are we ever going to know who they are? Just because we like to take our space as superior, privileged people, someone else is deprived of their own.

Equality is about having equal opportunities for everyone and not discriminating on the basis of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion, belief, or age.

Diversity talks about empowering people by respecting and appreciating their differences. It’s about placing a positive value on those differences.

Inclusivity is the efforts and practices an organisation puts in to have different groups or individuals having different backgrounds to be culturally and socially accepted and welcomed and equally treated.

Here’s a roundup of the thoughts from the participants:

  • Equality exists not just for members of one species but for all living beings on the planet. Being superior in one or more aspects must not give us the right to exploit and endanger the opportunities of other beings. In that sense, a hamster, horse, hawk or a human have the same right to life.
  • Everyone deserves to receive equal opportunities without any bias or discrimination. However, the reservation system is currently generalised and has to be re-analysed to consider the skills and knowledge of a potential candidate.
  • An assortment of ideas and opinions is what diversity brings in an organisation. More people from different cultural settings automatically means that your business would have more vantage points for viewing a situation.
  • People working in diverse cultures are more progressive as they are more adaptable, flexible, open-minded, empathetic and many such traits which automatically increases the quality of the company’s working environment.
  • Lack of women executives in Fortune 500 companies creates a big difference when it comes to their profits. Females constitute close to 50 per cent population of the world but only 22–30 per cent are involved in the production of the products they consume equally or more than males.
  • Diversity and inclusion are not the same things. Diversity is a numbers game, inclusion is about impact. Companies can mandate diversity, but they have to cultivate inclusion. Diversity cannot be forced by just bringing together people from different genders, regions or cultures.
  • It is also important to design environments for inclusivity. Mobearlize has developed a motorised wheelchair unit to increase opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Capitalism, in general, has had a huge impact in dividing the society and creating a pyramidal structure of wealth accumulation, giving less importance to human values.
  • People (especially in India) judge intelligence by the fluency in English. Natives and non-English speakers have tremendous potential if given an opportunity. Casting away non-English speakers into menial roles or not providing them with an opportunity is a direct underutilisation of the nation’s prospects.
  • The world needs all kinds of minds to work together. Language covers up the visual thinking portion of our brain but people with autism and Alzheimer’s can perceive and conceive what most of us cannot. But most processes, institutions, systems and/or products are not designed keeping them in mind. With our Education, for instance, we are killing arts classes for more science classes. However, there are innovations like Timeless, an app that helps Alzheimer’s patients recognise their Loved Ones or Leka, the high-tech toy designed to help autistic children socialise.
  • Our parents and grandparents were raised in a very different environment than we are being raised today?—?what passed as norm twenty or fifty years ago does not conform anymore. Fortunately, people are coming out of the closet and minority groups are more aware and vocal about their rights. It thus becomes very important for the current generation to respectfully tell our elders that racism is no longer a good thing, that we no longer treat some groups with contempt and hate, and that it is perfectly alright for people to love and marry people from whichever gender they want to.

Special thanks to Benares?—?Kitchen and Bar (Chandigarh) for serving the participants with gracious hospitality. The session was moderated by Prerna Kalra, founder of Open Hand Solutions which deals with organisational HR (and related) Practices and was attended by students, social entrepreneurs, social workers and activists.


About Planet Meets

Planet Meets are hangouts: people casually discuss problems and solutions over a topic in the presence of a moderator. They act as an open platform inviting and constructively discussing ideas, opinions and connotations coming from people of different backgrounds. Small discussion forums like these allow everyone to share and learn without enforcing a notion.

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