Reflection on Diversity
Reflection on Diversity
What can be more comprehensible and at the same time more complex than interpersonal relationships? The only thought that comes to my mind is the relationships between the groups, groups that are built from individuals with their own educational and personal backgrounds, racial and ethnical diversity and social and economic attributes. Individuals comprise groups and these groups, social, economics, business, environmental or any other have, essentially, the same purpose – create a feeling of belonging and build on our individual comfort zones. Human being is a collective thinker that finds his personal identity and builds individual cognitive and socio-emotional learning. The discussion around diversity long time ago left sociological circles and became essential in variety of studies on business effectiveness and science of human nature. Diversity is measured on individual, group and even national level. Hofstede (2001) argues that all nationalities have a certain set of emotional and social characteristic that can be used effectively to build on interpersonal relationships and even organizational cultures. The reason why I bring up this example here is because, in my view, the level of diversity on which Hofstede measures individualism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, achievement perception and long-term orientation is the starting point of our diversity consciousness.
Another interesting angle to look at diversity is the relationships between minorities and dominant majority. We discussed over the course of the lectures such elements as ascribed and achieved social position as well as economics of diversity and one of the brightest examples that comes to my mind is the relationships that have historically developed between immigrant communities and white American population. It is interesting to analyze the social inequality and diversity of Hispanic community that, according to national Census (2010) reached over 50 million people. Immigrants, majorly from Mexico are subject to both achieved social position as well as ascribed social element. The point that I would like to make here is that once moving to the US these minority is seeking for the ways to adapt and create comfortable social and urban environment. This drives educational standards and demographic attributes of this minority and determined their achieved social status. At the same time, such personality attributes as race, first language and immigration history will continue shaping their diversity profile through elements that are not under their control.
We are all, at some point in time become a subject to diversity as members of minority groups. My personal experience illustrates several examples where I felt ‘different’ or ‘other’. One of them, however, very common on one side, and complex from personal emotional perspective I would like to raise here. When we moved from our town here, I started my new school and as a child it was my first experience of changing social environment and trying to adapt to new conditions. The entire situation was stressful as this change was associated with new house, new times incorporated into my daily routine as my father changed his job as well as, ‘the cherry on top of the cake’, my new school. I was popular and very sociable child and always was seeking attention from my friends. Never excluded and with clear leadership profile, I could not imagine that my life can be different. My first day at school made me feel ‘different’ as I felt like an external observer of the events and behaviors of people that I met for the first time in my life. We had a lot of new students every year in my old school, but I never had a chance to understand their position. That day it was me: shouting minority in well-established social group and I felt too visible to be excluded and too excluded to feel part of this social group at the same time. After one week, when I finally got to know my colleagues better, I realized that my previously achieved social status was lost along with prestige and power that I had in my previous life.
This understanding causes a lot of frustration inside me and I no longer could behave naturally. With that, I transformed my ‘individual minority’ from feeling ‘different’ to feeling ‘other’ and coming home to naturally comfortable zone I still could not feel home as urban surroundings were very different. At this point I realized that I have lost my comfort zone and I had to start building it again. I should mention that the role of socioeconomic factor did not influence me and core dimension of inequality that I experienced at that stage was power (Ferguson, 2013). Loss of confidence resulted in my inability to act in a way that I would normally use to gain attention and pass my message across to other people. The time past and I started to learn new ways to approach this learning process. By the end of the year I could barely remember how difficult and excluded I felt when I first joined the school. Children have generally higher capacity to adapt and change given diverse social environments and my case was not different. The learning that I took from this experience is the fact that all of us deal with diversity through personal prism of comfort zone and it is the ability to widen this comfort zone that brings diversity consciousness and help us to build on critical personality traits, such as conflict management, emotional management and our leadership skills (Bucher, 2010). Diversity consciousness is a learning that we will take through life on personal experience as theory gives us the direction of thinking and tools for analysis, but only cognitive knowledge brings real ability to deal with this diversity on personal experience.
Bucher, R. D. (2010). Diversity consciousness: Opening our minds to people, cultures and opportunities. 3rd Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson. Print.
Hofstede G. (2001). Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations across Nations. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Print.
Census (2013). 2010 Census Shows America´s Diversity. United States Census 2010. Available at: https://www.census.gov/2010census/news/releases/operations/cb11-cn125.html
Ferguson S. (2013).Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Class: Dimensions of Inequality. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing. Print.