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June 23, 2023

The Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in our Work and Culture, Part 1

By Kevin Donaldson

The principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are more than just buzzwords—they embody an approach to society and organizations that acknowledges, respects, and values our differences. In this article, we delve into the specific definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion, highlight their significance, and explain how they intersect and why we must uphold these ideals in our communities.

Diversity in DEI: Celebrating Our Differences

Diversity refers to the existence of variety within a certain setting, such as the workplace, school, or community. This can encompass a range of elements, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, ability, and socioeconomic status.

The promotion of diversity implies acknowledgment of and respect for these differences. It’s about ensuring everyone, regardless of their background or personal characteristics, has a seat at the table. But diversity alone isn’t sufficient—it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Equity in DEI: Leveling the Playing Field

Equity—the second component of DEI—involves fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people. It’s about understanding and addressing the disparities in opportunities and outcomes for different groups.

Equity goes beyond the notion of equality (where everyone receives the same resources or opportunities). Instead, it recognizes that due to systemic barriers, some people may need more support to have the same opportunities as others.

For instance, equitable housing policies are integral to addressing disparities in homeownership rates. This approach is deeply embodied in the concept of affordable housing, as it strives to provide a fair chance for everyone to have a safe, affordable home.

Inclusion in DEI: Building Belonging

Lastly, inclusion refers to creating environments in which individuals or groups can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued. It’s the act of making everyone feel that they belong.

Diversity is about having different voices in the room, equity ensures these voices get a fair chance to speak, and inclusion makes sure these voices are heard, especially when it comes to making decisions that impact them. Inclusion fosters a sense of belonging and empowers people to participate fully in their community or organization.

The diversity, equity, and inclusion definitions explained above are more than ideals; they are practices that require commitment and effort from us all. The journey to uphold these values may be challenging, but by embracing diversity, promoting equity, and fostering inclusion, we can build stronger, more vibrant communities.

At Habitat Charlotte Region, we envision a world where everyone has a decent place to live. That vision calls us to speak out against the housing inequities created in our community and put equity and justice at the center of our work.

This is not an initiative. We strive to be an organization that reflects the community we serve and lifts the diverse voices of our employees, homeowners, volunteers, and donors. We believe in honoring our entire community’s experiences, and it is our commitment to do and be better.

Grounded in this commitment, we have created a council to embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice into the consciousness of Habitat Charlotte Region.

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