Reflection from #FastForwardDiversityInclusion Webcast #5 with Sarah Dolman on her work with excluded individuals and communities, LGBTQ+ awareness and the concept of Intersectionality (a sociological theory describing multiple threats of discrimination when an individual’s identities overlap with a number of minority classes — such as race, gender, age, ethnicity, health and other characteristics.
My key take-away is that inclusion will struggle to happen without a culture of kindness and kindness may not happen unless you make time for it. In this day and age, under normal circumstances, people do not have much spare time. We lead busy, stressful lives and kindness and stress don’t mix very well. Sure, some people are naturally kind, but even the kindest of people get stressed. As such you need to make time for kindness. This could very well mean making time for self-care so that you are resilient, at your best. It is easier to be kind to others if you have been kind to yourself.
What about those people who are not the typical “kind type”? Is there no hope for them? Can we not count on them to be inclusive and create space for diversity?
I think that like empathy, we need to look at kindness as more than just a quality that one can have but critically an action that people make. You may not naturally be kind, but you can act kind if you make the time and effort for it. If you believe that kindness matters and value it enough, anyone can do kind.
What does kindness behave like? Generally described as: Well meaning. Respectful. Suspending judgement. Empathic. Listening. Forgiving. Considerate. Patient. Generous. Warm. Serving. Grateful. Practicing and improving any of these behaviours can already lift your ability to be kind. For further inspiration, ask yourself what does kindness look like to you? Who has been kind to you? What did they do? Whatever that is, if you make time to do that for other people you will help them feel valued and inadvertently, included.