A Different Perspective on …
Diversity & Capacity Development
Every worker should be entitled to a degree of freedom to participate in a variety of activities that facilitates their learning and enhances their personal growth. Foremost, the opportunity to learn from other people is vital for the development of the new skills and different ideas that create more equitable cultures. Furthermore, without social interaction there is a risk that people become isolated, and this will impact negatively on their learning and mental health. Creating a variety of opportunities for meaningful relationships can maximise individual growth leading to personal identity and shared professional knowledge. Preferably these relationships need to be bonding - across the organisation, but also bridging - with partners from different organisations (Putnam. R. 2003). It is easy to confuse access to learning activities with the need for all workers to join in. While good practice demands that preparation anticipates for diversity in order to enable access, inclusive activity should also respond to the emerging needs arising from the shared activity. In other words, Inclusive practice demands a flexible attitude that accommodates to the needs of both the individual and the group during learning activity. The issue is not about what is a right or wrong way of doing things, but about moving practice on while sharing an experience that develops greater understanding.
It is important that participation is given at least the same weight as contribution in order to ensure an ownership of knowledge that can lead to the development of professional identity. So, facilitating personal growth these days requires more than the delivery of facts. The development of individuals has a moral and social dimension, in which both facilitators and participants have a role. Each need to create a climate of mutual respect to foster the acceptance required in a tolerant society. Values, however, tend to be determined by individual preference and personal perspective. A culture that treats people fairly will therefore accept different ways of seeing things in order to allow enough flexibility for different values to be celebrated equally. Where practice is flexible, people are not expected to agree or conform to rigid ideas. Instead, people are encouraged to voice their own ideas or to respectfully challenge the existing practice that poses constraint to different beliefs.
This can start by approaching difference from a capacity perspective, and looking at contribution in a positive way. This approach also underpins personal growth and reflective practice.
Personal Capacity Development Inventory:
Gifts of the head. (Things I know something about and would enjoy talking about with others, for example: marketing, artwork, movies, birds…).
Gifts of the hands. (Things or skills I know how to do and would like to share with others, for example: carpentry, sports, cooking…).
Gifts of the heart. (things I care deeply about, for example: protection of the environment, conservation and animal survival, civic life, human rights…)
(Kreztmann & McKnight, ABCD Institute at Northwestern, 2010)
Personal capacity inventories carried out to identify people’s strengths will never harm individuals in the way other skills audits or incapacity forms can. Focusing on what people have to offer not only makes good business sense, but is also profoundly more respectful and therefore aligns with ethical commitment. Finding new ways of working may also help disrupt the systemic marginalisation caused by involuntary stereotype and prejudice.
Written for Equal Approach - http://www.equalapproach.com/
© L M Chapman – EQuality Training - 2010