June 01, 2012

Diversity Is Being Invited to the Party; Inclusion Is Being Asked to Dance

Vernã Myers

From Moving Diversity Forward: How to Go From Well-Meaning to Well-Doing, Chapter 1

  • Learn the difference between diversity and inclusion.
  • Realize that you can’t change without changing.
  • Find out what inclusion requires from organizations and individuals.

I always open my diversity workshops by introducing myself as a “recovering attorney.” I don’t know who coined that term, but it describes me perfectly. I practiced law for six years, but for more than eighteen years of my professional life I have been advising organizations on issues of diversity and inclusion. My work has been about helping institutions—founded, shaped, owned, and dominated for a long time by white men—to create more welcoming and supportive work environments for everyone, especially people of color, women, and, more recently, those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and disability communities. I have also worked to encourage and help open-minded and caring white people to go beyond the superficial and distanced relationships that sometimes exist between black and white people at work, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, and in other areas where we come together.

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