In a field like diversity, where the volume of learning can be staggering, it can be hard to feel a sense of personal progression. To help myself with this, I started to look at the 12 Step Recovery Programme – but through the lens of diversity issues.
For those who don’t know, ‘12 Steps’ is something people use in addiction recovery. It’s a way to acknowledge the change and progress in your life yet recognise the tension that you may not be ‘there yet’.
The steps themselves are an open framework that guides you through a range of self-reflection, they aren’t prescriptive, they just guide you in a general direction.
They allow you to take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions within a non-judgemental space.
Crucially, they give a sense of movement and internal change. Without this, we run the risk of diversity being tokenistic and shallow, just for show and not a reflection of real change.
Without it, diversity is just ‘colour by numbers’. I hope this helps you feel like you are moving forward.
The 12 steps towards prejudice recovery
- I surrender and admit that problems of prejudices actually exist, are real, and that they not only matter to the people around me but, first and foremost and crucially, to me.
- I believe that a better definition of diversity exists and though elusive, the pursuit of it benefits us all.
- I independently decide to pursue that definition of diversity actively and seek it for others and for myself.
- I continually make a searching and fearless moral inventory of my views.
- I proactively admit to myself and others the exact nature of my wrongs.
- I am ready and consciously want and desire to remove these prejudices.
- Humbly I ask for help to remove these shortcomings.
- To all the people I have harmed, I am willing to make amends.
- I will make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- I will continue to pursue diversity, knowing that it is a process, and when I falter, I will admit I am wrong.
- Through ongoing study, investment or mentoring, I will seek to improve my conscious contact with those around me.
- Having understood the importance of diversity, I will seek to carry this message and practise it in all my affairs.
So… where to next?
The global stage demonstrates all too often that it doesn’t take much for people to create an ‘Us vs Them’ scenario. So, we are definitely not ‘there yet.
Whether you use the 12 steps as a one-off to kickstart your reflection, or whether you use them as a monthly check-up, I hope they allow you to find a sense of progression and possibility.
Like a car MOT, it helps give a sense of what is right, what is eroding and what is failing. That said, I hope that wherever you are on your diversity journey, you are making progress, that you are moving forward.
Whether you are reading this as an individual, or as someone responsible for a team or an organisation, we all have our parts to play. We all have our contributions to make.
And if we choose to engage in that, then there is real hope.
So, are you ready to take the first step?
Colse Leung is a communicator and design consultant working in Bristol. He is also the founder of @BristolThreads – a ‘people-powered good news’ blog.
You can connect with Colse directly via the links below:
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