Celebrate Diversity Month: Why it Matters

icon of people celebrating in a circleYou may not be aware but April is “Celebrate Diversity Month.” This recognition month was started in 2004 to honor the diversity surrounding us all. The hope is that by acknowledging and celebrating differences and similarities, we can achieve a deeper understanding of each other. Some might ask, “Why celebrate diversity month?” Others may wonder, “How can we celebrate diversity month in our remote environment?”

Why celebrate diversity month?
To answer this question, one needs to consider, “Why does diversity matter?” It’s not simply because discrimination is illegal and unjust, but also because it is a social and business imperative that strengthens organizational effectiveness and society as a whole.

Celebrate Diversity Month is a time to reflect and identify the reasons we each believe diversity is important and how we can each contribute to inclusion and equity for all. While it’s important and necessary to increase the number of different identity groups in our classrooms and organization, diversity is also about opportunities, voice and a supportive inclusive environment. There are many ways to categorize diversity, including race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, culture, disability/ableism, experiences, etc. Embracing all of these and more provides us with a foundation for valuing varied perspectives, cultural differences and approaches.

Diversity provides a competitive advantage of promoting innovation, enhancing productivity, recruiting top talent, improving customer (patient/student) orientation, considering all perspectives, employee satisfaction and decision making. Thus, it matters and it is critical to all that we do.

Celebrate Diversity Month also provides time to reflect on (a) what diversity means to each of us, (b) it also reminds us to learn about similarities and differences surrounding us as part of our journey to become more culturally intelligent and (c) it provides us a time to reaffirm and commit to our college value of “diversity and inclusion.” Of note, the College of Pharmacy’s value of diversity and inclusion explicitly calls out that we should celebrate our differences and similarities. It’s not something we do for just one month. It’s something we demonstrate through our ongoing commitment to living our values.

How can we celebrate diversity month in our remote environment?
During the pandemic, there have been numerous cancellations of celebrations in an effort to keep everyone healthy and safe. While many people miss getting together, we’ve learned there are a multitude of ways to celebrate in our virtual/remote environment. This is as true of Celebrate Diversity Month as it is any other recognitions. First, seek to understand. Take the initiative to learn about other cultures, beliefs, backgrounds, similarities and differences among people.

Here are a few specific ideas to consider:

  • host a multicultural movie night or sharing perspectives regarding a movie with others
  • listen to music from around the world, and/or ask someone to share examples of music from their own culture or heritage
  • support minority-owned businesses
  • learn how to be an ally
  • read a book, article or watch a video or TED Talk that enhances your learning
  • see what people are posting on #diversitymonth in social media. While you may not always agree with the content, try to seek to understand where someone is coming from.
  • take an online course (check out LinkedIn Learning)
  • try a new recipe from a culture you are learning about; food and drink are a huge portion of most cultures
  • visit a museum virtually or check out the Google Art and Culture site
  • consider participating in a virtual run or competition for a cause you care about
  • talk to someone about diversity.

Finally, members of the College of Pharmacy community are encouraged to participate in our Celebrate Diversity Month Capstone on April 27, 2021, from 12-1 p.m. (Registration link will be sent soon.) This event aims to provide an informal forum for people to share activities they participated in during Celebrate Diversity Month and what you have learned from your exploration. Remember learning about similarities and differences is a journey. It does not matter if you don’t understand all cultures or types of diversity. Rather, what matters most is our acceptance of everyone without judgement. Ignorance of others’ beliefs is no excuse for intolerance in any manner. We are all in this together.