Having been a speaker and teacher of human rights and inclusion for over 20 years now I have realised things change, frequently. It’s important for all Equality, Rights, Diversity and Inclusion consultants to move with these changes.
For many years now I have started every discussion on inclusion with the following phrase: “All of us are born free and equal in dignity and rights‘. It is of course the opening words from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. I do this because it is always important to ensure a level field of thinking and privilege from the start in any discussion on rights. It also links whoever is taking part of the session or talk into the wider world, understanding they are taking a step into the global work of Human Rights, and they have every right to do so.
In a university talk I gave last week I was asked what the keys point of my “unique” method of delivery of knowledge is. What tips could I pass on to assist others in sharing their viewpoints in Human Rights and Inclusion. This threw me for a while as I didn’t think I had such a unique style. Then I realised the student had asked a great question, but focused it on the person talking and not words. I broke this down with the group to better shape the question: “How can we connect people with their own diversity and rights to then support others?”
I broke the approach down to the following concepts:
We are all on a journey to making friends. Everyone on this planet is a best friend waiting to happen. We just need to understand that concept better. Inclusion, Equality, Diversity, Rights and all other areas around these are not the ‘EDI’ sector, or “Rights and Engagement’ business… They are the sector of friendships. -Friendships are perhaps the single most important element of the human experience for the short time we have on this planet. It is a motivator for happiness. A source of support and one of the purest expressions of love. Treat everyone you meet as a wonderful person that you are sharing time, no matter how short, of your life with. Don’t let that time be in conflict, let it be in love.
Framing inclusion in this way creates a more positive angle towards problem solving. You are not convincing a Racist person to find the error of their ways, you are assisting them in making human connections and opening the possibility of friendships.
Im fully aware that this could come across as a training technique or a philosophy behind inclusion. However just think through the ramifications of equality, inclusion, and their counter points I hope you will reach the same conclusion.
Now, to practically apply this in your training method or delivery style, here is a rough guide to what works for me.
Discuss the beauty of how inclusion works, discuss the conflict it can create and the history of how this can be overcome. Discuss the precious way in which we can all bring equality to our friends creating something which is both personal, global and beautiful.
Celebrate every opportunity for sincerity, more than honesty sincerity gives you insight, for a person to be sincere they must share, to share they are showing bravery. Considering the vast in-equality and the suffering in life we have all been through sharing anything in a sincere way is a feat of bravery which should always be celebrated.
It is OK for you be vulnerable. It is ok for others to be vulnerable. Share these, without acknowledging and sharing vulnerable issues there can be no discussion on equality, no human rights. Never feel challenged in having the hard discussions.
Any discussion on Equality, Diversity, Rights, Inclusion and any shared experience on Race, Age, Gender, Sex, Disability, Social economics, Mental Health, Sexual Orientation and surround topics is a change. The universe is remarkably flexible on change. Even a discussion between two co-workers over lunch can change the world for human rights. Recognise the responsibilities that come with this and use the potential for the better.
Always challenge hate. Never attack or mock someone for their views, no matter how hateful. Be ready to admit your own viewpoint is filled entirely with your own experience which in turn is filled entirely by your own privileges. Others use hate as a way to claim privileges, to display behaviour of hate is a cry out for help. Challenge this, defend others rights, but remember the perspective behind the hate is always one of needing help too.
Lastly, overcome. For us as a society to be happy, we need YOU to be happy. Understand and accept your own privilege, don’t be comfortable with it, be happy with it, realise by sharing it you can start to create happiness for others. Challenge your unconscious bias and accept yourself for it. Overcome your own mind and its complexities, your own social concerns, even overcome your desire for being an activist and taking a stand on what is right. Be a better person, don’t make a stand, don’t defend a view point, make a new friend instead.
I am never precious on my work, words or art. If this is useful to you use it! If you find a better way, let me know, it can start a friendship.