Rescripted’s Revolution Glossary is our new series where we dive deeper into words which are part of the conversations about justice happening around all of us. The goal of this series is to provide a resource for people who want to expand their vocabulary around social justice topics, or people who want extra context and perspective on their word choices. Our hope is that this series can spark some important discussions, and help people jump into those discussions with enthusiasm.
Earlier this year, a group of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color theatremakers drafted a public letter to the White American Theatre establishment about the harm they have suffered working in institutions that have failed to address the racism internal to their practices. In this letter, the theatremakers sought to share ways theatre in all its forms can become more equitable and safe for all artists involved. In the letter, the drafters make use of the EDI terminology. EDI stands for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; it is a framework that has emerged in the last years to rectify the lack of representation in the workplace. Today, I’m going to focus on just the “D” of EDI: Diversity. The term “diversity” has been making its way across many of our news feeds in the past few months, where its overuse might make it seem more like a vapid buzzword than a useful concept. However, diversity and those calling for its intentional implementation in the workplace aren’t kicking up dust because they’re bored. The desire for diversity is the desire to have the workplace be more reflective of real world demographics.
Diversity is simply the “presence of difference within a given setting.“ Underpinning the concept is the idea that a plurality of viewpoints and perspectives leads to a more open and inclusive environment. Rather than ignoring the various identities and differences among race, class, gender, disability, sexual orientation, tribe, religion, etc…we can use our differences to be more understanding of each other or even make what’s being worked on a better, more vibrant product. Bringing in people from various walks of life allows for everyone to expand their perspective, with the hopes that a fuller sense of the picture will enrich the entire creative and/or work process. Diversity acknowledges our differences without denying the uniqueness of each person’s lived experiences. Despite not being the same, we are still able to work alongside each other in harmony.
It’s important to note that diversity is more about the demographics of the people in the room rather than diversity existing inside of a person. A boardroom can be diverse, but a person cannot be. Meaning a queer, latinx person is not a “diverse” person; however, their unique experiences would contribute to the diversity in a workplace.
When companies strive for diversity, they are striving for a workplace where their employees reflect the diversity of the outside world. In a country as racially and ethnically diverse as America, a room full of straight white men does not reflect the world in which many of us live.