OUR DIVERSITY PRINCIPLES
1. We recognize that “diversity” refers to the many identities and cultures within our
society and within an individual, including race, ethnicity, gender, social class,
immigration history, religion, sexual orientation and other identities. Each of
these identities has its own culture.
2. Because of our experience as an immigrant and refugee-serving agency, our entry
point to diversity discussions may be ethnoracial diversity; however, we
acknowledge the overlapping nature of the above identities, and the importance of
understanding the impact of them all.
3. We see building diversity awareness and skills as a two-way process. On the one
hand, we aim to help people of different identities navigate cultural differences
they encounter in mainstream society (and in particular the workplace), and on the
other hand we help mainstream society transform to embrace the rich cultural
differences that people of different identities bring.
4. We have a responsibility to act in helping to change oppressive behaviours like
racism, sexism and classism that present barriers to the success and well-being of
community members. This is part of our vision of inclusiveness, and truly opens
the doors to diversity.
5. We take an approach to anti-oppression work that is based on the belief that
oppressive ideologies like racism, sexism and classism are learned, not inherent.
We can educate people in a constructive and caring way, without attacking or
blaming them for the ideas that they have absorbed from their environment.
6. We believe that personal story sharing is an important and powerful educational
tool for diversity work, and that the expression of emotion that comes with story
sharing is a natural, positive thing. We can be a helpful resource to each other as
we share experiences in a caring and supportive environment.
The Do’s and Don’t’s of Supportive Listening
• Get distracted
• Tell your own story
• Give premature advice
• Interview the person about what you want to know
• Have a friendly, interested expression
• Have attentive body posture appropriate to the culture
• Use eye contact or avoid eye contact as culturally
• Use attentive, encouraging sounds and words
• Only ask questions that take the person further down their
Take the available time, and divide it in half. Use a timer. Decide
who will speak first, about whatever is one their mind. While the
first person speaks, the other person does supportive listening.
When the timer goes off, the two people switch roles. Great for
reducing stress, and helping people think clearly about things.
Developed for the Skills for Change Diversity Program 2009-09-09
with acknowledgements to The National Coalition Building Institute, and Re-evaluation Counseling
that there will be cultural differences and equity
dynamics in the workplace and community.
-don’t assume your way is the only way, and that others’
ways are faulty approximations of yours
-anticipate that what you see as “normal” isn’t necessarily
normal to other people
-know that equity issues exist, and affect you and
differences with an attitude of openness and curiosity.
-investigate your own values, assumptions and biases
-invite others to tell you how they see the world and
what they have experienced in their identity groups
-do your research; listen to people non-judgmentally and
try to find the logic in their cultures and in your own
underlying assumptions that might not normally come to
-try to articulate why you do and think the things you do
-help others to do the same
-don’t worry about making mistakes – you will; just be
ready to apologize for them
-start a dialogue to build closer relationships and better
your view of the world, yourself and others.
-don’t hold on rigidly to your assumptions and ways of
doing things – be ready to change
-enjoy trying out new behaviours and views
-reach out to all kinds of people
Skills for Change 2009