What is diversity?

diversity, noun: the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization – Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Understanding and embracing the concept of diversity is important because our nation, workplaces and schools are becoming increasingly diverse places, say staff members in the EWU Office for Diversity and Inclusion. At its core, an acceptance of diversity involves recognizing and respecting individual differences, including differences related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and other areas that make every human unique.

Last week the office kicked off a series of monthly workshops, called Diversity Essentials, to help bring the topic into focus. The first workshop, attended by more than 60 people, examined the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, and why embracing each of these concepts is critical to advancing the goals of Eastern Washington University.

“This is an opportunity for Eastern to make some strides and do some things differently,” says Director of Diversity Kim Davis.

Davis says she wants series attendees to know that they can play a key role in helping identify structural issues on campus that hinder equity. Participants are also asked to help develop strategies to create an inclusive environment that promotes equity.

What is equity?

equity, noun: freedom from bias or favoritism – Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

“We are all biased,” says Davis. “That’s not a judgement, that’s just the truth.”

Davis says it is important that we learn to understand and rethink these biases, recognizing that advantages and barriers exist and that we all don’t start from the same place. Acknowledgement of our unequal starting places and participating in good faith efforts to correct them, she adds, is a crucial first step toward reducing bias and promoting equity.

What is inclusion?

inclusion, noun: the act of including : the state of being included – Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

EWU’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion adds some depth to that definition: inclusion, they say, puts the concept and practice of diversity into action by creating an environment of involvement, respect and connection––an environment where the richness of ideas, backgrounds and perspectives are harnessed to create organizational value.

The Diversity Essentials workshop series is designed to do just that. Organizers promise to provide a variety of topics that will help EWU students, faculty and staff serve each other better and promote a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus environment.

The workshops, organizers say, will serve as a safe place for members of the Eastern community to share their personal experiences, to air constructive criticism of the university and departments, and to help brainstorm ways in which EWU can improve. Each workshop will also include exercises allowing participants to leave feedback anonymously.

The program also provides certification of diversity training; something that could be useful to Eastern employees as they work within their own departments and groups to advance diversity, equity and inclusion on campus.

Upcoming Diversity Essentials workshops will focus on topics such as microaggressions, implicit bias and LGBTQ+ ally training. Watch for scheduling emails from the EWU Office for Diversity and Inclusion. The same training workshops will also be offered at the EWU Spokane campus starting next month. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Kim Davis, director of diversity, at 509.359.6874 or kdavis2@ewu.edu.