By: Qasim Swati (United Kingdom)
Today’s is the age of globalisation where there is a great and deep integration and interaction among people, companies or businesses and governments globally. This situation has led to the growth of global ideas, culture and trade among the people. Equality and diversity play a significant role in the overall progress, development and success of internationalism, which is based on the principle of cooperation among the nations of the world for promoting their common welfare, betterment and wellbeing, while sacrificing their personal, regional, national or selfish interests. Equality is so important for the global progress of human society that once the leader of the Wal-lam-wat-kain band of Nez Perce (a Native American tribe of the interior Pacific Northwest region of the United States in the latter half of the 19th century), Chief Joseph (1840 – 1904) said, as: ‘The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.’ Similarly, diversity is so essential for the growth of human performance globally that a famous American singer, civil rights activist, poet and memoirist, Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014), went on to say, as: ‘It is time for parents to teach young people early on that, in diversity, there is beauty and there is strength.’ Anyway, we need to know what we mean by equality and diversity before describing their benefits, advantages and merits.
Equality: By equality, we mean the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities. It is, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, ‘the right of different groups of people to have a similar social position and receive the same treatment.’ This is a situation in which men and women, people of different races, religions, etc., are all treated fairly and have the same opportunities. Some people call it equal rights, fairness, equal opportunities or non-discrimination, but a more suitable word, denoting the meaning of equality is egalitarianism which means the doctrine (belief or set of beliefs or dogma) that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.
According to Flick Learning Ltd (Training provider in Coventry, England), ‘Equality is the idea that people should all be treated fairly (not equally) while diversity is about recognising that there are both individual and group differences and so people should be treated as such.’ This is what has been suggested about equality in a different way by a prominent ancient Greek philosopher and scientist (considered as Father of Western Philosophy), Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BB), as: ‘The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.’ Due to the importance of equality and diversity, the same organisation (Flick Learning Ltd) has mentioned seven merits, advantages and benefits of equality and diversity training that include such things, as a more innovative and creative approach; reducing the risk (and cost) of possible legal action (against a business); increased performance; creating more positive working relationships; appealing to a wider audience (of customers); greater productivity within the time; and attracting and retaining the best quality employees (for a company) or staff retention. (https://flicklearning.com/blog/benefits-of-equality-and-diversity-training-for-the-workplace).
Equality means that everyone in the society should be given the same opportunity or chance to benefit the maximum from applying their skills, knowledge, ability, talents, potential and stamina, irrespective of their colour, race, gender/sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion, language, nationality and such other specific characteristics or qualities. Everyone should be provided with the available opportunities to get the most from their life. He or she should be treated on the basis of the philosophy of fair share of duties and rights. There should be no prejudice, labelling, stereotyping or discrimination against anyone in the society, as a result of any of their specific characteristic or background, including ageism, sexism, discrimination against disabled people, change in sex or gender, matrimonial or partnership status, maternity, pregnancy, racism, religious discrimination, discrimination on the basis of being male or female, the state of being heterosexual, homosexual, lesbianism or bisexuality, etc.
An American journalist, political commentator, lobbyist, a Fox News contributor, a former online opinion editor for the Washington Times and a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, Monica Crowley, has defined equality, as: ‘True equality means holding everyone accountable in the same way, regardless of race, gender, faith, ethnicity or political ideology.’
However, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (1926 – 2016), a Cuban communist revolutionary, politician and former Prime Minister and President of the Republic of Cuba, explains equality, as: ‘The equal right of all citizens to health, education, work, food, security, culture, science and well-being – that is, the same right we proclaimed when we began our struggle, in addition to those which emerge from our dreams of justice and equality for all inhabitants of our world – is what I wish for all.’
Diversity: Diversity is the state of being diverse, a variety or variation. This is the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something, as defined by Cambridge Dictionary. Diversity also means the fact that there are many different ideas or opinions about something or the condition and fact of being different or variant. This is also the mixture of races and religions that make up a group of people or the fact that there are people of many different groups in the society, within an organization, etc. ‘Diversity, according to the American entrepreneur, but most prominently known as the publisher of Forbes magazine, Malcolm Stevenson Forbes (1919 – 1990) ‘is the art of thinking independently together.’
Diversity means differences and variations in life, depending on various factors. This also means the unique and individual qualities, characteristics, circumstances, conditions and situations of people and things. Diversity can be found in the form of differences or variations of people based on the differences in their hobbies, interests, opinions, beliefs, thinking, mentality or outlook. Diversity can also be spotted in one’s character or life on the basis of how old they are. It depends on whether they are young or old, child or middle-aged, etc.
The way people live, based on their individual circumstances, also identifies diversity. In other words, we can judge the presence of diversity among different people on the basis of their such lifestyle factors, as social class, the level of their earning or income, in other words, and the region or area where they live and where they come from.
Different people living in the same society, community, region or country can have different religions as well, the most famous among such religions being Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism or we can also find such people who believe in no specific religion at all, and known as atheists.
Diversity also takes its origin from such factors or elements, as social and economic status in the society, including up to seven different socio-economic classes now. Diversity within a society can exist on the basis of cultural identities or differences, personal qualities or characteristics, different ways of living their lives or lifestyles, age, beliefs, opinions, interests, likes and dislikes and so on.
The Benefits of Equality within a Society: Equality has many advantages when people in a society or community are treated justly, appropriately and fairly. The equal treatment of people can reduce or decrease, if not totally eradicate, the sense of deprivation from among the various groups of people living in the same society or community. An American Baptist minister and civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968), has presented the description of equality in the form of his intense desire, as: ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color/colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.’
The presence of equality and the absence of inequality in a community, society or country create the spirit of patriotism for the relevant community, society or country and love with each other among the people. Equality is also hugely beneficial for encouraging the people to excel each other in good things, like obtaining and applying skills, knowledge and other such abilities or capabilities that can lead to the sense of positive competition and constructive-mindedness among members of the society.
The rule of law is very essential for running the affairs of a government. If all people are equally treated and considered as equal in the eyes of law, such a situation can create trust and belief among the people in the law of the country, which is very significant for running the government machinery and system of the country smoothly.
It is because of the importance of equality that most of the religions of the world emphasise on its availability in society. For instance, the Holy Bible says about treating others in an equal or better way, as: ‘And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them (The Holy Bible, Luke: 6:31).’
Equal treatment of people and equal opportunities for all can generate an atmosphere of peace where everyone can enjoy their life and benefit from the available sources and resources in order to make progress and change their circumstances from worse to better. As a result of the presence of such equality, people can benefit from such environment in various ways.
Equality is an emblem and symbol of fairness, justice and better behaviour towards others. If there is equality in a community, this means there is justice in that community, which can lead to the prosperity of the people living there.
The Advantages or Benefits of Diversity: Like equality, diversity has its own advantages and contributions towards the relevant community, society or country. Basically, the uses and advantages of diversity are so many in number, but we will shed light only on some of them due to the shortage of time and resources, available for the current issue.
Diversity can enhance and boost the human life, locally, nationally and even globally by bringing into action the potential good among members of the society, community or country, coming from various backgrounds, with multiple experiences, skills, capabilities, abilities, potentialities, talents, knowledge and good sense of living together. This is because of the significance of diversity in a community that a famous American actress, filmmaker and humanitarian, Angelina Jolie, lets the world know about the power of diversity, as: ‘Our diversity is our strength. What a dull and pointless life it would be, if everyone was the same.’
Diversity in society is very necessary for all sorts of businesses, introduced by different people coming from various regions, ethnic groups, genders, identifications by sex, religious and other beliefs, views, ideas and opinions, likes and dislikes, economic backgrounds, like being rich, poor, middle class or working class, etc.
By understanding the value of differences (in other words, the significance of diversity), and tolerating each other, this is possible for the people to reduce or even eliminate political, religious, social, economic, military and all other sorts and types of tensions in the community as well as on the global basis in the entire world. The 44th President of the United States, who is also the 1st African American to be elected to the presidency, Barack Hussein Obama, has explained the importance of diversity, as such: ‘We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This is not a matter of political correctness. It is a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.’
Diversity opens a new door or way of opportunities for the people of the community, as the members of the community can learn from each other and from various experiences of life that the different people with the various backgrounds in the same community may have. Thus, they can share information with each other and learn from each other about their day-to-day life experiences.
By marrying the people of different ethnic groups in a diverse society, we can create new breed (here it means a new race) of human beings in the form of mixed race or being multiracial in the community, which is useful and beneficial for the community in so many different ways. India is a country where people belong to different religious and racial communities and come from various backgrounds. This fact has been highlighted by the current and 14th Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi/Narendra Damodardas Modi, in these words: ‘The diversity of India, of our civilization, is actually a thing of beauty, which is something we are extremely proud of.’
Diversity can introduce new things, like discoveries, inventions, relations, foods, experiences, skills, knowledge, etc, brought and contributed by various people coming from different backgrounds into the same society, community or country. This is the reason why Gary Locke, an American politician and diplomat, who has been the 21st Governor of Washington, the 10th US ambassador to China and United States Secretary of Commerce in the Obama administration, appreciates the presence of diversity in a community, as: ‘Ethnic diversity adds richness to a society.’ Similarly, a renowned British designer/fashion stylist and editor-in-chief of British Vogue magazine, Edward Kobina Enninful, respects and values diversity in these words: ‘I can tell you, without diversity, creativity remains stagnant.’
Diversity can be economically beneficial to the community, as well, because it brings and creates products and services for the community in different forms and ways. For example, rich people can use the services of the poor and skilled ones by opening new businesses and creating more opportunities of employment in the area and help so many by providing them with jobs and employment by investing in their businesses.
In the same way, if there are both young and old people in a community, the young people can help the old ones in different ways and, simultaneously, can benefit from them (from the old ones) by learning from the experiences of the senior citizens, as it is said that ‘Old is gold.’ So, young people can learn a lot from the aged ones.
Last but not least, diversity can encourage people to understand each other and their respective habits, religions, traditions, customs and cultures.
Qasim Swati is a freelance journalist, writer and human rights activist, based in the UK, and can be reached at: https://qasimswati.com or email@example.com.