We Need To Stand Together
There’s never been a time when connecting “inclusively” has been more critical for the planet, since so many in our world are now separated. For the first time in history, the vast majority of Americans are following “shelter-in-place” protocols, which are forcing us to physically disconnect from one another. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean we can’t interact in what we might call “virtual” ways—and from a sociological perspective, it is absolutely essential that we do. It is so important to be there for one another through this crisis, and it is the only way we will all get through successfully. At the same time, however, unconscious bias pulls us in the opposite direction—causing many to be left out and unfairly impacted, when we just stop to think about it.
We Tend To Stand Apart
Let’s be honest—a global pandemic is horrific. And when people are operating from a place of fear, they tend to hunker down and think narrowly, because they’re threatened. This is why many are guilty of hoarding at the grocery store and focusing only on themselves, even though it may not be characteristic of them under normal conditions. But what are the diversity implications when we separate and divide? Well, we’re watching it play out in front of us on a large scale (even though it’s happening all the time), where certain population groups end up more vulnerable. People of color, older people, those with disabilities, less education, fewer resources and opportunities—to name just a few less-advantaged groups—are the ones being hit the hardest. So, if we only think of ourselves and forget to think inclusively, these social disparities will tear us apart when we need to stand together. How can we do this when we’re “social distancing”?
We Can Stay Connected Virtually For Now
Even though we have to follow healthy practices at the moment, it doesn’t mean we can’t reach out in other ways—there are plenty of choices for staying connected while staying safe. One option is to use technology (FaceTime, Skype, email, call, text) that allows us to connect and include. We can even interact at a distance of six feet and through masks when necessary. Here are a few suggestions:
- Be intentional about selecting someone to connect with. We might think we are naturally inclusive, but being deliberate and focused is best.
- Be more inclusive in your choice of connections. Ask yourself who in your workgroup, your neighborhood, your circle of acquaintances might be feeling left out or less advantaged (it might be a new person, a single person, someone ethnically diverse or with fewer resources).
- Be faithful checking in, offering support and friendship where you can. If it’s a work relationship, see if you can help with anything; if it’s an older neighbor maybe you can get extra milk at the store to leave on their porch or just give them a call once a week.
If each of us were to reach out to just one person less included or less privileged than us—the whole world could be connected. This is not a time to fend for ourselves, it is time to care for one another. If you want to learn more about “Practicing Virtual Inclusion” for you or your workplace, ask about arranging a free preview of our online instructor-led course.