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The Power of Difference

The Power of Difference | IE Building Resilience

On May 25, we watched with shock and disbelief the video of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the police. It was a video that impacted – and continues to impact – the global community, because as humans we abhor the killing of one of our fellows by the very institution that, as a democratic society, has the monopoly of force to protect all citizens regardless of color.

By Celia de Anca, Director of the Center of Diversity at IE University.

 


 

Unfortunately, the case of George Floyd is not an isolated one, but more the result of the deep-rooted racism and injustice that exist in society – in all societies. We must ask ourselves whether racism is an American problem or whether there are varied forms of discrimination all around us.  For example, as COVID-19 broke around the world, there were scenes of racism against Chinese people – in general, as a whole entity – in many of our cities. Another example, we all have Muslim friends, individuals who have had to struggle daily to be perceived as good citizens rather than stereotyped as potential terrorists, just for wearing a veil or simply declaring that they adhere to the Muslim faith. Sadly, these are only some of the examples of discrimination persistent in our communities.

This unfortunate recent event should help us to awaken and revisit how our societies deal with discriminated groups. We must take this opportunity to take action and fight both individually and collectively, not only to get rid of discriminatory practices and institutions but also to truly provide equal opportunities to all members of society, regardless of our differences.

Diversity is in IE University’s DNA, and as an academic community we all must work to preserve this diversity and eliminate all forms of discrimination.

Humanism is at the heart of our values, and it is only if we embrace diversity and create an inclusive place to learn and grow that we will be able to thrive, to survive.  Diversity, in terms of gender, culture, skills, experiences, and cognition, is what makes IE University strong and unique, by incorporating different kinds of talent into our everyday activities.

Diversity leads us to innovation and to create new structures in this constantly evolving world. However, managing diversity is no simple task. Great intellectuals including Leo Tolstoy and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin have suggested that everything that unites leads to creation, and everything that divides leads to dispute and chaos. It is from this dialectic that we must understand the value of diversity as a double-edged sword, and understand the world that awaits us.

Diversity is double-edged in its power: in any of its angles that, ironically, make individuality disappear – either uniting differences for a single purpose, that by virtue of being common belongs to no one but benefits everyone, or by fighting to defend the homogeneity of increasingly smaller units, so small that they end up disappearing into the chaos.

We at IE University believe in the power of the difference each individual brings to the commonality, and that it is only through independent thinking that we can create new ideas, products, and services for the greater good.

At the same time, we are also very aware that in order to bring differences together, we need first to create an equal playing field for all, because only with equality can one afford to be different. Only if we feel secure and included as one equal among others, can we bring the best of ourselves into the community.  What we are striving to create at IE University is an equal playing field, where each individual, regardless of religion, race, experiences, sexual orientations, or physical traits, is judged only by the contribution they make to the community.

We aim to be a community of people that have different mindsets, who can complement each other in the creation of new ideas. In order to have that level of complementarity and innovation, we need to provide our people with a sense of belonging, a community that accepts them and in which they can easily integrate. Before anything else we need to ensure that their Demographic Diversity (color, gender, physical differences) is welcome and included, and that discrimination cannot take place.

There’s little doubt that we are living through turbulent times, and uncertainty is overwhelming at every level due to the great complexity of the situation. At IE University, we can help our community to navigate and help others to navigate this complexity by managing diversity, since only complexity understands complexity.

At IE University, we are constantly striving to improve and evolve and to take each available opportunity to learn and to be disruptive, to improve as a diverse community that harnesses the power of difference to become even more resilient, efficient, and innovative.

As a community, we are taking action, individually and collectively, and are consciously thinking about what else we can do. As a community, we do not accept discriminatory practices.

A message by Diego del Alcázar Silvela, Founder, IE University

Embracing diversity is the only way to fully enjoy life. Enriching oneself with the ideas, beliefs, attitudes, opinions of others. Knowing that there is always another horizon, another wave, another way of loving. To reject another is to proclaim a war to oneself. To kill another person is to kill us all.

“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.”

Ola Joseph