Being multicultural has always been a reality for me, especially because of my ethnic roots: Black (African), Indian, and Caucasian (France). Due to my own family’s diversity, I did not perceive colors. However, from my youth to adulthood, I started to get more questions about what ethnic group I belonged to.
In my opinion, our collective consciousness needs to be reconsidered. The nuances become so subtle that the notion of belonging to a specific ethnic group becomes more difficult to define when judging by the color of someone’s skin. Facing such an observation, we should question our criteria concerning origin, identity and even the color of the skin.
My daughter has always drawn attention at school and around our community because of her beautiful red hair and fair skin. Her distinct features can be attributed to my diverse heritage and my husband’s Italian traits. Our little family is amazed by the spotlight we get sometimes. Not all the attention we receive has been kind. It confirmed for me that people should go beyond what is visible, like the inherited diversity. I feel that prejudices do exist and the best way forward, in my opinion, is to recognize them.
The way I see it, our perception of identity or ethnicity is cultivated from our individual experiences and view of the world. Ultimately, I think the borders between different ethnicities are much tighter than we may think, which leaves one to question - what is the criteria to determine someone’s ethnicity and why does it matter?
Diversity is rich with a strong potential for success
The conversation around diversity has been underscored now more than ever. I have found that many studies report that in the current global context, a diverse workforce is essential for growth and profitability. A research “Women in the Workplace” published by McKinsey in 2018, states that organizations with greater ethnic and cultural diversity outperform less diverse organizations by 36%.
From a global context, an example of diversity being celebrated and smashing records, is the new highly acclaimed Netflix series Bridgerton. Bridgerton is distinguished for its diverse cast, with 82 million household streams in its first 28 days of streaming.
In France, our government administration has implemented initiatives to support diversity and equal opportunities in the workplace. I am encouraged by the movement in this area because of the impact it presents to strengthen our local communities, cities, and country. At the same time, I think that it should not be up to governments to impose such progress, it should come from within people themselves, it should be natural. After all, diversity has been around long enough to have its own important place.
Of course, the drive for change presents its challenges. Considering this, I am reminded of my sister’s experience. She was offered an internship based on phone interviews. On her first day on the job, the hiring leader came to welcome her, but instead of my sister, he greeted a white woman sitting next to her. When my sister approached the leader saying she was the new intern, he informed her that the internship opportunity was no longer available. It’s a staunch reminder that we have work to do, to continue to tear down the walls of judgment.
As this African proverb states, "Alone we go faster, together we go further!" Whether in a company or across a country; I think diverse ethnic backgrounds, experiences, and skills, compliment economic performance and propel us toward success. I think the need to see people not for what they are, but what they bring to the table. In order to win together, we have to be curious and ready to learn from one another, whoever that person may be.
Regardless of the detractors, I remain convinced diversity is the greatest strength of humanity and that everyone should be considered for their individual contributions to their employer and society and not their origin or the color of the skin.
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