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Understanding Self-Awareness: Intersections with Dimensions of Diversity

Self-awareness is the foundation of personal and professional development. A key component of self-awareness is understanding the dimensions of diversity within ourselves and in others. We all hold social identities that shape our perspectives and how we move in the world, and these identities are a starting point for the dimensions of diversity that impact us at work. Awareness of these dimensions is the necessary foundation for an inclusive workplace.

What Are Dimensions of Diversity?

Dimensions of Diversity include the many ways that you view yourself and others, based on your membership in different social groups, your lived experiences, and other aspects of who you are. Dimensions of Diversity are a major part of “who you are”, but that doesn’t mean they define you or even drive your personal behavior and choices. Often, these dimensions impact how you are seen by others in your society – or they might have an impact on the resources and opportunities you have access to in certain systems.

Over the course of a lifetime, the impact of these dimensions of diversity can add up for a person – informing how they see themselves and the world around them.

Developing Our Awareness

At work, awareness of the dimensions of diversity helps us better understand ourselves, and provides us with a lens for understanding our colleagues. Committing to the ongoing practice of self-awareness allows us to build deeper connections, dismantle biases, and promote inclusivity.

Here are some tips to help cultivate self-awareness:

  1. Practice Introspection: Take time to look inward and reflect on how your own experiences and identities may be impacting your actions and reinforcing biases.
  2. Reflect on Your Identities: Consider your social identities, such as your race, gender, ethnicity, ability, and sexuality. How do each of these identities affect your access to opportunities, relationships, or resources in different environments?
  3. Consider Your Lived Experiences: Think about significant experiences in your life that have shaped you. How have these experiences influenced your views and interactions with others?
  4. Practice Recognizing and Disrupting Your Bias: Use your own experience and reflections in the previous tips to practice recognizing when biases come up for you. Consider assumptions you’re making about others and what’s informing those assumptions. Challenge yourself to redirect your internal monologue, so that it doesn’t manifest in biased behaviors.
  5. Be Open to Other Perspectives: With an understanding of how complex your individual lens can be, keep in mind that that complexity applies to every single person you work with. Stay curious, and remember that there’s so much to gain from being open to other people’s perspectives and experiences.

Self-awareness involves introspection, and a recognition of the dimensions of diversity that shape us. It can be challenging to stay “always on” in our awareness, but practicing these strategies helps build the muscle over time. These skills give us a deeper understanding of how we, and others, navigate the world, and serve as a powerful tool for building inclusive workplaces by connecting more authentically to one another.

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