Working with Diverse Populations
“Diversity is sometimes about counting people. Inclusion is always about making people count.” ~Steve L. Robbins
Social Justice must be more than just a theory. It must be our every-day practice to recognize, respect and recruit individuals who bring the best to our organization.
If we are to become an inclusive institution, we must recognize that there is strength in diversity. How do we become a strong and inclusive institution? Below are tips and activities that you can use in every-day activities.
- Show respect to everyone
- Reach out to the “outsider”
- Learn how to pronounce and spell names correctly—don’t be afraid to ask
- Make an effort to learn about their home and be sensitive about it
- If you know someone who is not fluent in English, speak clearly
- Be yourself
- Take time to listen and understand, even if you have to ask questions
- Pay attention to the physical environment—whether you’re at work, a meeting or training
Understanding Other Cultures
Visit the Toolkit for Cross-Cultural Collaboration
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Below are some activities that you can do to break-the-ice at a meeting, to provide a mini-break retreat during work, or to simply remind everyone that while we are different, we are the same in many ways. Remember: if you would like to schedule a training session, please contact us.
Who am I?
This activity can be used as an icebreaker. Follow-up discussion can then enhance the activity to make for a thorough session on understanding differences. (If you have any questions about how to best implement this activity with your audience, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, slight variations can be made to make activity the most beneficial to each set of participants.)
A. Give each participant a blank card. I have found that the larger blank index cards work best when the activity is going to become more than an icebreaker.
B. Make sure that everyone has a selection of markers, colored pencils, etc.
C. Tell each participant that they are going to ‘describe” themselves on the card provided. They will give blank stares so continue with an explanation about the title of the activity. They are going to answer the question “Who am I?”
D. Often, I do not provide much guidance because that allows for the “differences” between all present to come to the forefront. Some people will write words, others will draw pictures and some will do both. The original activity calls for you to adorn the card with images representing your background and/or what is important to you. You may provide guidance as needed to get the activity started.
E. You may also show YOUR card so that they can see an example and thus gain a better understanding. What I have found is that this causes some to just replicate what I have on my card which may or may not reflect exactly who THEY are when put on spot to describe themselves. Again, this activity has some basics, but is up for alteration.
F. Each participant should stand up and explain themselves using the card.
G. As a follow-up, I always ask the purpose of the activity once everyone has presented.
H. Ask about how often they are provided an opportunity to talk about themselves and how appropriate it is. What happens if we do walk up to someone and just start telling them who we are?
I. Discuss similarities and differences within the group. What do they mean?
J. Finish by asking if anything was learned about themselves and those in the group.
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This activity can also serve as an introductory activity, but can take more time dependent upon participants’ willingness to share. (You can have this on a handout or just do it as a large group). Either way, follow-up discussion should occur.
A. Define diversity. (this can be words, phrases, examples)
B. Do you think it is an important discussion topic (in your work/organization/community)? Why or why not?
C. Why are people often uncomfortable around those who are “different”?
eXtension Diversity Center
eXtension Diversity Across Higher Ed
USDA Diversity and Pluralism in Extension
Utah State University Cooperative Extension
Penn State Dimensions of Diversity
The Ohio State 4-H – Meeting Diverse Needs