When it comes to working on organizational diversity, I think sometimes people stop before they begin because they’re afraid of the mistakes they might make. It is certainly something that has slowed me down in the past, but here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
1. “The fact that you will mess it up is not a reason not to do it.” – Daniel Jose Older
In his BuzzFeed article, 12 Fundamentals of Writing the Other (https://www.buzzfeed.com/danieljoseolder/fundamentals-of-writing-the-other?utm_term=.ugPK0QyBd#.clLwzPWgE), Daniel reminds us that we aren’t experts in diversity, and we’ll almost certainly make mistakes, but, “This doesn’t mean don’t do it. It means challenge yourself to do it better and better every time, to learn from your mistakes instead of letting them cower you into a defensive crouch.”Learn from your #mistakes instead of letting them cower you into a defensive crouch. #diversity Click To Tweet
2. When you get it wrong, you get the chance to learn and improve.
Last week marked the final webinar in Jael Richardson’s series on Diversity in the Arts (https://ontariopresents.ca/resources/recorded-webinar-last-call-questions-inclusion-and-diversity-need-answers-now). I watched the entire series, and highly recommend you do the same, but one of the things that really caught my attention in the most recent webinar was the question of what to do when you are working toward diversity, but you get it wrong:
- Admit where you went wrong.
- Do not argue the merits of your decision or your reasoning, until you have genuinely listened and apologized for the oversight.
- Consider all the options and weigh each one VERY carefully. Take time… but not TOO much time, to do this well.
- Address the decision with the people/person affected first, and make a plan for how to handle it publicly together.
Jael used the example of her own project, the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), where they were surprised and embarrassed when it was pointed out how little representation their original program had for disabled artists. The FOLD example is especially valuable because it shows how even an organization founded on principles of diversity can make and learn from mistakes in this area.
So, when you have a chance to make any amount of positive change, don’t let fear hold you back!