Saturday, November 7, 2015

Thoughts on Diversity and Inclusion

The Diversity Collegium defines diversity as “ the variety of differences and similarities/dimensions among people, such as gender, race/ethnicity, tribal/indigenous origins, age, culture, generation, religion, class/caste, language, education, geography, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, work style, work experience, job role and function, thinking style, and personality type,” and inclusion as, ” how diversity is leveraged to create a fair, equitable, healthy, and high-performing organization or community where all individuals are respected, feel engaged and motivated, and their contributions toward meeting organizational and societal goals are valued. (p.4) 

Diversity is something that occurs naturally by virtue of having to share the planet with each other, inclusion is something we need to work on together.

We no longer live in separate tribes. The world has become a melting pot and we must understand how to become more inclusive, or we will not progress as a species. If we fail to be inclusive when people are young, then what will it look like for those same people when they have the added burden of age? Not to mention the fact that those who become accustomed to their life may experience a sudden change and a hard fact of reality when they age and the tables turn.

Ageism is rarely discussed when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identification, everyone grows old.  We’re prepped to be excluded from society, beginning in a person’s late thirties. We are told to think about retirement. We are programmed to believe that the world is for the young.  According to Qed Consulting (A business diversity consulting service), “ three systematically under-represented groups [in the work force are] workers over the age of 50, individuals with disabilities, and religious and ethnic minorities.” How will these underserved groups survive if they can’t find employment to take care of themselves?

The news website The Nation indicates that  “the country had 40,750 homeless people 62 or older in 2012. As the nation’s population ages, that number is expected to more than double by 2050.” There are long term ramifications to a culture obsessed youth and beauty. That is a society that excludes all of those who don’t fall within its narrow confines, and in the long run, the enormous number of individuals left out will either speak out or allow themselves to be forgotten.

Much of our programming is through the images we see in commercials and movies. As a 
filmmaker, I have the challenge of being an older woman. I also have an opportunity to use the medium to speak out and offer diverse roles in my own films. Inclusion starts with individuals.