By Bobby T. Rimas
The advantages of diversity, equity, and inclusion can be far reaching and can be utilized to make our nation a much more competitive, stronger, resilient, and united country. But before we can understand the advantages of embracing diversity, we must first comprehend that diversity is multi-faceted and includes individuals of all races, ages, religions, socio-economic backgrounds, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, veteran status, abilities, and more.
We also must understand that equity can, among other things, address the pay inequity issues that too often are found in the workplace. Last but definitely not least, inclusion can improve access for all, but especially for those individuals with additional barriers. Additionally, we must acknowledge that institutional discrimination exists and is one of the ways in which disparities continue to negatively impact many individuals.
As a formally educated proud American and as a professional person of color who has experienced racism and witnessed several protests, riots, and looting in one of America’s largest cities, I can say with no doubt that much more diversity, equity, and inclusion is needed to help our nation heal from the many decades of racism, sexism, exclusion, and some of the darkest historical chapters of our beloved country.
Recent protests that took place across the United States in connection with the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis reminded us that we, as a nation, still have a long way to go with regard to equity and race relations. These protests and clashes with police, which came less than 1 block away from my home, also reminded many communities that racial disparities still exist not just in law enforcement and the judicial system, but in education where it is clear that some schools have more resources than others, employment since discrimination and pay inequity still exist, healthcare since access is unfortunately not equal for all, and much more.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on our country, infection and death rates of communities of color have laid bare the inequities that exist within our nation’s healthcare systems. Many credible sources have refenced that the COVID-19 infection and death rates of communities of color are generally higher than the rest of the nation.
As individuals, we can either accept such discriminatory statistics, or we can actually be an agent of change. There are several ways in which we can embrace, advocate for, and enact diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as:
- reaching out to your local, state, or national political officials to advocate for strengthening existing laws or creating new legislation and policies that further ensure equity and inclusion in housing, education, the workplace, healthcare, and more;
- advocating for or strengthening employer policies and procedures that ensure a corporate culture where diversity, equity and inclusion is embraced and discrimination is not tolerated. Many employers already have policies that deal with equity, inclusion, and discriminating behavior and practices, but as many of us know, there are some employers who do not;
- developing, implementing, and/or advocating for trainings and seminars that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, your volunteer organizations, or schools, colleges, and universities where you or your children attend;
- expanding your own personal and professional networks to include diverse individuals. Such diverse networks can give you opportunities to learn about different perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds, start and continue dialogues that address disparities, and open doors that we had no idea existed; and
- joining or contributing to organizations that advocate, promote, and/or implement diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As more individuals, organizations, and corporate entities embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion, many have come to realize that such actions can be great for business, a competitive edge in a global economy, retention, productivity, mutual understanding, and an added bond between all of our communities. It is my hope that the future of our nation is much more committed to the many strengths and benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Bobby T. Rimas is an Associate Professor at California State University, Los Angeles and a Paralegal for a bank in Pasadena, California. A native son of Palm Springs and a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Mr. Rimas previously served as President/Chair of the UCLA Pilipino Alumni Association for 2 years and was President of the Los Angeles Paralegal Association for 6 years. He currently is a Board Member for the UCLA Lambda LGBTQ+ Alumni Association and is a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.