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Diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

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4.2 Fear of saying the wrong thing

Fear of saying the wrong thing, of upsetting someone, of making a fool of ourselves, can often stop us from doing things. But not doing anything at all is not going to encourage and nurture diversity, in fact it will perpetuate inequality.

Watch this short video, in which Aggie Mutuma, CEO of Mahogany Partners, talks about getting over the fear of talking about diversity:

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 6: How to get over your fear of talking about diversity
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Video 6: How to get over your fear of talking about diversity
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Another common experience is fear of using the wrong language. As you’ll already have seen, the terminology in some areas of diversity changes quickly so if you are unsure, it is usually best to ask the individual which words they would prefer you to use. If they don’t wish to engage with you in that moment, you could suggest another time to speak.

There are also useful glossaries available for further research. See Further reading for a list.

Activity 3 Time to reflect

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes for this activity.

Take a few minutes to reflect on what makes you nervous about the diversity and inclusion agenda. For example, is it fear of offending someone by doing or saying the wrong thing, or is it fear of the consequences of being honest and open?


Reflecting on your own fears should help you to identify the most relevant content to help you start to address those fears as you progress through the course.