Things to Know About Diversity

By Susan Powell, PhD, Core Faculty in the Counseling Psychology Department October 05, 2015

Susan Powell, PhD, Core Faculty in the Counseling Psychology Department.

Whether you're looking to build relationships with others from whom you differ, create a workplace that's inclusive of people from different backgrounds, or just want to know more about diversity, you might find the following points to be helpful.

Tips for learning about diversity:

  • Be aware of microaggressions, which are subtle, unintentional behaviors that represent unconscious, deeply-ingrained biases.
  • Perceptions of the dominant group often differ from those of the minority or oppressed group, based on experience.
  • Becoming culturally competent involves not just having knowledge about other groups or the skills to interact appropriately, but also awareness of aspects of your own identity.
  • Appreciate aspects of your own identity, both privileged and stigmatized (e.g., you might belong to an oppressed group in terms of religion, but a privileged or dominant group in terms of race).
  • Shift your mindset when you have conflict with others around issues of diversity from "They need to change" to "What can I change?"
  • Question yourself when you feel reactive about diversity: "What am I missing in this situation?" "How might my desire to be proven right (or innocent) affect my view of the other person or reality?"
  • Increase your tolerance for making mistakes as you strive to build relationships with people from whom you differ.
  • Learn to "sit in the fire" and deal with difficult emotions (e.g., guilt regarding privilege or anger regarding discrimination).
  • Be an ally (e.g., if you're a white person, speak up about racial inequality).
  • Appreciate your allies.