Group of multicultural runners at the start line

Promoting diversity and inclusion

What does it mean to promote diversity and inclusion in the context of major sport events? Why should we promote them?

The concepts of diversity and inclusion

As cultural innovator and diversity advocate Verna Myers put it:

“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”1

Diversity

If you take a look at our modern-day societies, you can see a diverse range of individuals of different gender, race, colour, age, marital status, sexuality, disability and religious belief. Diversity is about the representation of these unique traits and characteristics with the understanding that everyone has an equal right to participate.

In major sport events, we see diversity when people of different countries and abilities are invited to compete. To make this happen, policies and practices need to be put in place and we’ll explore examples of this later in the course.

Inclusion

But inclusion is one step further, where environments are created to encourage all those who have been invited to participate to thrive and reach their potential. To make this happen at a sports event, decisions need to be made and specific actions implemented to provide for the different needs of individuals, to allow them to participate fully2. You’ll see examples of how this is done at the Commonwealth Games throughout the course.

These two concepts are often assumed to mean the same thing2 but you now know the difference in their meanings. Importantly, we can’t assume that just because a sport event reflects diversity, that it is also inclusive.

Why is it important to promote inclusion?

Human rights

We all have human rights which need to be respected. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out that every human being has the right to participate equally and meaningfully in society. This means, in theory we have equal rights to participate in our communities, but in reality it is sometimes more complex, and the ideas of equality and equity help to understand this complexity.

Equality

Equality means everyone in our community should be considered equal, regardless of their unique characteristics and traits. However, this often gets confused with the idea of treating everyone the same and providing everyone access to the same resources to achieve their potential. The issue with doing this is that we overlook our individual differences and individual needs and by treating everyone ‘the same’, some will progress and others may get left behind. This is because we haven’t all started from the same level playing field.

Equity

So, the idea of equity becomes important, because equity is about establishing a level playing field by giving different resources to different people depending on what they need to have access to the same opportunities and enable them to reach their full potential. Equity links us back to our idea of inclusion in terms of making conscious decisions and implementing specific actions to achieve equity, from which point we can all enjoy equality.

Inclusivity produces better outcomes

There is also evidence from the Australian Sports Commission (2017)3 that the sports that have inclusive practices have been more likely to have greater growth in participation numbers. Ways to encourage participation by different social groups includes having policies and campaigns to encourage participants, volunteers and administrators.

While inclusion does require effort and resources, such investments are recognised as increasing productivity, achieving objectives more effectively4 and overall, producing better outcomes.

Your Task

Can you provide examples of both ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ in a situation you have observed or experienced in your own work, sporting group or personal life?

  • What distinguishes your two examples?
  • What could be done to improve either or both the diversity and inclusion in your example?

References

1. TVMC (The Verner Meyers Company). [Cited 9 March 2018]. Available from: https://vernamyers.com/

2. Sherbin L, Rashid R. Diversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion. Harvard Business Review. 2017 February 2:2-5.

3. Cultural Diversity in Sport. Australian Sports Commission; [updated: 12 January 2018; cited: 9 March 2018]. Available from: https://www.clearinghouseforsport.gov.au/knowledge_base/organised_sport/sport_and_government_policy_objectives/Cultural_Diversity_in_Sport

4. Frost S. The Inclusion Imperative: How real inclusion creates better business and builds better societies. 1st ed. Kogan Page; 2014. E-book available from: https://www.koganpage.com/product/the-inclusion-imperative-9780749471293


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This article is from the free online course:

Major Sport Events: Winning Through Diversity and Inclusion

Griffith University