AIAB provides diversity-training programs for mid-sized and large organizations that realize that diversity is not just the “right thing to do” but “right for their business”. Unlike other programs we make it personal and experiential utilizing a community approach to truth, identity, cultural conscientious, and inclusion. We invite you to consider a different perspective about these ideas.
Michael Siegel received his Masters in Clinical Psychology in 2013. He took a class in multicultural practices and started a practicum (clinical experience) in narrative therapy. These two events exposed Siegel to social construction, postmodern, and cultural consciousness theories, which ultimately have had a dramatic effect on AIAB’s philosophical position.
Social construction theory states that beliefs are socially constructed resulting in multiple truths on a given subject depending on the community or communities one is a part of (Taos, 2010). What postmodern theory introduced was a focus on multiplicity: multiple views, multiple possibilities, and multiple lives. Along with the influence of social constructionism, what previously was held as “true” and “real” became suspect; there were many truths available and what was once before has been construed as reality was now considered a negotiated experience (Dickerson, 2010).”
What does all of that mean to diversity? In accepting the idea that each of us believe our own truths based on the communities that we are members of, it makes it easier to respect other’s truths without impeachment of our own beliefs. In other words, we don’t have to make others “wrong” in order sustain our own beliefs. The result from a diversity perspective is connection with others that are different as opposed to judgment.
This philosophical position has also opened up doors in the area of identity. The western cultural of “self” encourages people to “discover” who they are. The implication is that we have one identity that describes who we are. Postmodern-ism allows for us to have multiple identities which allows us to find more in common with others. When an individual identifies him or herself from a multiple perspective, there is more space for finding what we have more in common with others.
An example of this idea is when an Asian American singularly identifies as an Asian American and meets an African American that singularly identifies as an African American. They may have difficulty connecting if they see each other in that singular way. However, upon further insight both individuals possibly can find common ground as men, husbands, fathers, sons, music lovers, art lovers, and sports fans. This commonality bridges the diversity gap.
Typical trainings provide participants with a checklist of do’s and don'ts on how to treat people and situations that will probably occur in their professional and personal lives. The focus is usually on attitudes and behaviors that are preferable and not preferable. However, when it comes to cultures there is just too much to know. The checklist would be too long in order to know everything.
So when it comes to Cultural Consciousness we believe that if we create a shift in our acceptance of others, the attitudes and behaviors will naturally follow. How do we approach the idea of Cultural Consciousness if there is too much to know? By coming from a position of “not knowing” with curiosity and questions. If you are interested in becoming more familiar with a person of a different culture, ask them about it. They are more, as we call it, “experience near” to the situation.