History will show you that things, places, and people that have been excluded, blocked out, minimized or watered-down are those that are deemed “different” and “unusual.” The label of ‘other’ is typically categorized for (but limited to):
− People of Color
− Certain age groups (Millennials, Senior Citizens)
The standards for what is acceptable in creative spaces are often a “plain vanilla” version of art. In the arts removing diversity does a grave disservice to both the artists and the audience because narratives, both of truth and for entertainment, adds to the culture. There is a level of responsibility of creativity to insert some form of color, complexity, a multitude of perspectives and make people FEEL something (even if it’s simply joy). Diversity does that.
Here at The Culture Bazaar, “Where Culture Connects People”, we curate images, experiences and ignite conversation that encourages diversity across the arts and entrepreneurship. But although we are in well in to 2017, the need to prove why diversity is important is still a thing! All the data shows that this should be common sense but you know that common sense is not always so common.
So, why is diversity good for you, me and the world? What are the benefits of diversity to corporations, small business, communities, governments, entrepreneurs (individuals) and overall society?
Can’t we all just get along! In most corporations, middle-aged white males are the ones making all the decisions. In creative spaces such as advertising companies or brand management firms, diversity should be paramount to avoid tone-deaf mistakes that could offend customers, sponsors and future collaborations (i.e. Pepsi). Inclusivity is a benefit but should be executed properly! The selection of a diverse team (talent), the creation of a universal product or service or creating content for a cause, entertainment or innovation should be met with good intention and the assurance that the messaging is accurate.
2. Innovative Thought
Different perspectives allow for innovative thought. When businesses and entrepreneurs allow for diversity, it creates an opportunity for people of different background (race, gender, education, sexual orientation). No true creative should want to be in a room of all liked-minded individuals. “According to an article from Scientific American: ‘People who are different from one another in race, gender and other dimensions bring unique information and experiences to bear on the task at hand. A male and a female engineer might have perspectives as different from one another as an engineer and a physicist—and that is a good thing.” (IMeetCentral)
3. Financial Success
“Diversity also ends up having an effect on the bottom line. A study from McKinsey and Co. shows that companies with top-level ethnic and gender diversity financially outperform those that are more homogeneous.” (IMeetCentral)
Throughout the elements of culture, when diversity is appreciated, celebrated and welcomed by individuals, businesses, governments and society, collective change and growth is inevitable.
Here are a few people and business adding value to the world:
#TheTastemaker: Everything is Gucci
Gucci put some soul in their scene. Pun intended! Not only is this campaign right on time (i.e. Pepsi) but it’s done well! A 1960s vibe, a dance party, and fly gear all mixed in for an exceptionally diverse ad campaign for a brand this highly honored across many groups. From the street (unofficial) Gucci label ironed on to street wear to gowns at the Oscars, Gucci has always been a creative force in fashion. This campaign shows there that there is even diversity within the same culture. Yes, there are critics of this type of diversity. “This type” being the inclusion of a cultural moment because its trending and popular at the time vs for the genuine need to impact the industry with people of color in hopes of making images like this the norm.
#TheArtist: Wrap My Hijab
It is true that social issues foster creativity. Look at all the poets, painters, musicians and sculptures who have created amazing works from pain, frustration and injustice. Mona Haydar, poet, activist, practitioner of Permaculture, meditator, composting devotee, mountain girl, solar power lover and a tireless God-enthusiast (all the commas!), wrote and performed the new song “hijabi.” It’s a celebration of culture, regions, womanhood, motherhood, and social sensitivity.
#TheConnoisseur and #TheSocialInfluencer: The Neighborhood Chef
Marcus Samuelsson is an Ethiopian-born chef and restauranteur. He owns 10+ restaurants including two amazing restaurants in Harlem, New York – Red Rooster and StreetBird Rotisserie. Samuelsson is not only a respect and highly sought after connoisseur and business owner but he is also a social influencer.
From first-hand experience, the restaurants have inserted a vibe in Harlem that welcomes ‘old Harlem’ whilst embracing the new. The patrons of Samuelsson’s restaurants are foodies for sure and locals who appreciate the elevation of the neighborhood. Here is his perspective on diversity:
Striving to promote entrepreneurship and the necessity of diversity and culture is important to us. It’s a fact that making diversity a priority in the creation of your art, mission, business, products or services will only elevate the probability of success. It is practical to believe and implement a diverse environment. Yes, creativity is subject to interpretation and allows artists to create from a place of purity and freedom but when a musician listens to more than one type of music, when a chef eats and prepares different cuisines, when a fashion designer or creative director studies both clothing designers and shoe designers, a shift in the process occurs.
Some people have been accustomed to thinking, developing, planning and organizing in one single way but to evolve one must begin to think further than what they have been taught or what they have seen. Traveling does that for me. Exploring the world, meeting new people, learning how other people communicate, live, work and create inspires me. The world is my muse and if I only watched or learned from one channel, from one book, from one person, the possibilities of greatness would be non-existent.
Until diversity is a seamless thread in our culture, it will always be a topic of discussion. People of “other” are not always included so there will constantly be the need to find a way in, find a way to be represented. Diversity benefits us all not only because its right but it’s an element of life that is guaranteed to create change and create opportunities for us to understand each other. This can all start with a simple conversation, then a plan and eventually execution for change across all areas of culture.