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Word Misappropriation: DIVERSITY
A verbal series. Part 7.
If you ask the Oxford dictionary, the word diversity is defined as “a range of many people or things that are very different from each other.” It includes such things as the biological diversity of the rainforests and the great/wide/rich diversity of opinion.
The Merriam-Webster, however, especially, focuses on the inclusion of people of different races and cultures in its definition.
Indeed, that seems to reflect common sentiments these days—which earns it an entry into my growing word misappropriation list. Whenever I so much as attempt to type in “diversity” into Google, the ever-so-helpful search engine auto-completes it on my behalf with the words: “…Equity and Inclusion.” They are now the standard package.
But whereas the ‘old’ diversity was rooted in an assortment of criteria like life experience, culture, age, background, religion, wealth, political leanings, education, skill, talent, language, gender, mindset, etc—the ‘new’ diversity seems to be about mostly one thing: race. Oh, and occasionally gender or sexual identity. After all, those are the only boxes potential employees are being asked to check over and over again on job applications (questions that a number of years ago would have been unthinkable violations of privacy, by the way).
There seems to be little concern for homogeneity elsewhere.
If only the importance for the diversity of some characteristics is recognized whereas the rest is dismissed, what message does it send to those who embody them? How can we decide which what categories of diversity are important for society and which should take a backseat? Isn’t the goal, by definition, to include as many as possible, to be truly ‘diverse’?
It appears that this new definition of diversity is confining us to do the very opposite of its meaning by encouraging academic institutions and employers in particular to chose to constrict its definition to the most narrowest of terms instead of casting the widest net.
What do you think of when you hear diversity? Has that changed? Leave a comment below.
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