I’ve just finished the excellent Understanding diversity and inclusion MOOC on the FutureLearn platform.

One of the areas that my coaching with Hayley has highlighted to me is that I want the world to be a fairer place. And I’d like to do work that helps with that. I consider this as part of my kindness purpose. When I asked myself why I wanted to help other people to be kinder to each other, I wrote ‘Because a kinder world would be a fairer world and a nicer place to live’. So I see them as closely linked.

Every week or so FutureLearn sends me an email of courses I may be interested in. And I’ve done a few with them before. Somewhere, tucked in one of those emails, was a link to this one and I couldn’t resist. It sounded like it was perfect for me and my self-directed research. So I joined up, engaged and learned a lot. Mainly about myself.

What I especially enjoyed about this course was that it wasn’t just a ‘here are some theories and some articles to read’ kind of course - though there were some of those. It consisted a lot of self-reflection and seeing how I react to different types of people.

I was introduced to the diversity wheel. I’d never seen this before, but it is a diagram (follow the link to see it) with two circles. The areas listed in the inner circle are the more obvious, easily visible differences between us. The outer circle shows the ones that are more subtle, less apparent ones. There are some things listed on there that I hadn’t even considered before. As part of my reflection on this wheel I realised how lacking in diversity my reading is.

I love the thought

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies

The man who never reads lives only one.

from George R.R. Martin. And I’ve long thought this to be true. Through reading, especially a well-written, engaging book be it fiction or fact, I get to experience facets of lives that I (probably) won’t live myself. But I got to thinking about my reading regarding that diversity wheel. I realised that most of the authors/protagonists were white, without any form of disability, straight, and mainly English or American. I’m now consciously trying to redress that balance and include more diversity in my reading experiences so that at least some of those 1000 lives are different to my own.

We also covered biases and awareness of those biases. One of the videos we were asked to watch was Kristen Pressner’s TEDx talk Are you biased? I am. It feels honest. And it has a really easy to perform test on whether something is biased or not

Mentally flip whoever you’re dealing with form someone else to test yourself


If it feels weird, you might want to check yourself

And if you want to see how it works then a good example is the @manwhohasitall twitter account which

flips the gender of things we commonly say and suddenly they become funny.

which suggests just how far we still have to go. And obviously, gender is just one of the diversities that needs to be considered. But this ‘flip it to test it’ approach seems easy to do and hopefully will help me work around those biases.

This has been a good course, I feel more aware and accepting of my biases and am prepared to try and address them when opportunities arise. It’s been a good use of my time.