Getting to the Root Level of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion with Self Awareness Skills Part 1 of 3
As social beings, we rely on cooperation to survive and thrive, by extension this brings about the imperative to understand how and why cooperative systems in societies, communities, and institutions will succeed or fail (The Cooperative Human, 2018). Specifically, this is why we long to create a social community and why we strive to connect with other human beings. In this regard, it is important to note that societal development starts at the individual level and permeates to the communal level. And while we are social beings, we are also communal beings and as we anticipate and match each other’s emotions we develop some degree of agreement which is the foundation that human communion evolves from, and why we are most comfortable when we are connected, when we share strong emotions and stories, and when the leadership ensures psychological safety and a state of togetherness (Morgan, 2015; Muhl, 2018).
While we all have a self-centered nature, the need for self-preservation by any means necessary, we also have an innate ability to manage our interactions if we become intentionally conscious about our verbal and non-verbal communications. For example, depending on what one wants to say and the emotions one wants to project, it is possible to bridge the undeniable differences among ourselves with some intentional consciousness. Therefore, this goes to show that achieving cooperation is integral to the resolution of most global challenges we face at different levels in society; key among them is accepting diversity, ensuring equity, and promoting inclusion. It is this that grounds the importance of cultivating social-emotional competencies.
Social-emotional competencies are important in forging and maintaining healthy relationships as they point to one’s capacity to interact with others, communicate effectively, manage emotions and behavior in order to effectively solve problems. Social-emotional wellness entails the capacity of an individual to Recognize, Understand, Manage, Express, and Reflect on their Thoughts, Interactions, Mindsets, and Emotions. The RUMERTIME Process® is a prevention/intervention strategy that promotes this framework of social-emotional wellness. Using this strategy, one can successfully and effectively navigate daily activities and interactions whilst adapting to the demands of growth and development. Focusing on these plots (steps), this article will outline how the RUMERTIME process contributes to the development of (1) self-awareness, (2) social-awareness, and (3) social emotional learning. Finally, how these contribute to the development of social emotional wellness.
By evaluating Recognize and Understand plots this section will detail how to enhance one’s self-awareness skills. The first plot requires individuals to be able to identify or list and ask the “what type questions,” about their thoughts, interactions, mindsets and emotions (TIME®). The second plot requires individuals to dig deep into the “why, where, how, and when” of their Thoughts, Interactions, Mindsets and Emotions (TIME®).
Recognize is aligned to self-awareness skills which at its most basic level embodies a person’s ability to admit, acknowledge, identify and list one’s Thoughts, Interactions, Mindsets and Emotions (TIME®). Furthermore, with regards to social-emotional competence, the ability to recognize requires one to honestly evaluate and assess one’s strengths, weaknesses, attitudes, and mindsets as well as the relationship between one’s actions, feelings, and thoughts in line with the impact they have on others and oneself. Regarding ensuring respect for diversity, enhancement of equity, and promotion of inclusion, Gurchiek (2017) asserts that difference is value-neutral, hence, how one reacts to difference is what matters. Therefore, ensuring cultural competence is important as it informs one’s ability to effectively engage others across differences. What is more, social-emotional competence or emotional intelligence is important in ensuring cultural competence.
This is supported by Bailey (2014) who asserts that the reason most diversity and inclusion initiatives in institutions fail is because they do not address both diversity and inclusion at the individual level thus creating a culture of exclusion where individuals feel psychologically unsafe. The result of this is that the initiatives become more compliance-based resulting in a situation where the majority feel guilty and differences are emphasized as opposed to being celebrated resulting in the rise of political correctness (Bailey, 2014). However, promoting self-awareness addresses this because, we all have innate biases and as a result, we discriminate against others without recognizing it. However, by consciously thinking about one’s Thoughts, Interactions, Mindsets, and Emotions (TIME®) and how they overtly or covertly enable prejudice, it is possible to consciously address them resulting in intra- and interpersonal balance and conscious living. Therefore, since we innately drift to those we perceive as similar to us and exclude those who are different, building an inclusive culture requires building bridges which can only be achieved by recognizing our mental biases and blind spots and consciously fashion an environment where everyone feels safe enough to express themselves without being compelled to conform.
This Plot (step), also aligned with self-awareness skills advances the gains made in the recognize plot in that, from the identified Thoughts, Interactions, Mindsets, and Emotions (TIME®) that contribute to our innate biases, the next step involves pursuing an understanding of the underlying factors that cause the biases. This results in the determination of what, where, how, why, and when systemic, institutional, and structural oppression and racism emerge and is sustained (Saska, n.d.). At this point, one acquires an understanding of the individual-level factors that contribute to and enable the societal manifestations of racism and oppression.
Moreover, understanding the root causes of our biases helps us to contextualize some of the origins for the lack of diversity, equity and inclusion in our work settings. Understanding the root causes also gives us greater insight into ways we are the same, and different, our needs, experiences, and opportunities. So instead of shying away from this, moving toward a deeper level of awareness, even though it will be uncomfortable at times, can result in the understanding that historically marginalized groups will experience more barriers when accessing resources and opportunities compared to those in privileged or advantaged groups (Saska, n.d.). Consequently, promoting the welfare of all persons requires one to not only come to terms with the history of marginalized groups, but to also understand that improving life circumstances for such persons can also be achieved by addressing their individualistic and root level needs to elevate them to an equitable playing field.
As communal and social beings, cooperation and community are key antecedents to the survival and thriving of a society. Therefore, with differences existing around us, it is important to move away from the perception of difference as a threatening factor and move toward it, fully embrace it as a resource. To do this, it is important to consciously identify the Thoughts, Interactions, Mindsets, and Emotions that continually ingrain biases in how we relate and perceive others who are different from us. Hence, to promote change, one has to be consciously aware of their biases as well as their causes and manifestations. Only when one attains this level of awareness is it possible to move forward to promote social reforms that celebrate and respect diversity, ensure equity, and promote inclusion.
ReferencesBailey, S. (2014, May 21). Inclusion Begins With Understanding The Self. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sebastianbailey/2014/05/21/inclusion-begins-with-understanding-the-self/?sh=6c2ef248442f
Gurchiek, K. (2017, January 31). Embracing Diversity Starts with Self-Awareness, D&I Expert Says. Retrieved from SHRM: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/embracing-diversity-starts-with-self-awareness,-di-expert-says.aspx
Morgan, N. (2015, September 1). We Humans Are Social Beings – And Why That Matters For Speakers and Leaders. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2015/09/01/we-humans-are-social-beings-and-why-that-matters-for-speakers-and-leaders/?sh=19cd39356abd
Muhl, J. (2018). Human Beings as Social Beings: Gerda Walther’s Anthropological Approach. Gerda Walther’s Phenomenology of Sociality, Psychology, and Religion, 71-84.
Saska, S. (n.d.). How to define diversity, equity, and inclusion at work. Retrieved from Culture Amp: https://www.cultureamp.com/blog/how-to-define-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-at-work/#top-banner
The Cooperative Human. (2018). Nature Human Behaviour, 427-428.
Yvonne Murray-Larrier, PhD, LPC, NCC, NCSC, EAS-C
Founding President of GCSCORED, Inc.