The intention of the diversity welcome is inclusion. It can be long or short. The more parts or aspects of what is present are named, the more the participants are likely to feel welcome in their diversity. It is a ritual, so don’t be bothered by the repetitive phrasing. Take your time with it!
You will want to add or subtract based on what margins are important for the group (for example, in a staff retreat naming all the roles in the room would be important). The common element is to inclusively name the range with a genuine “Welcome!”
You might like to prepare notes to remind you of a few you don’t want to forget. Feel free to give up the script, take your time, use your own style, bring your own energy into it, and look at the participants as you continue your welcoming. It can be a surprisingly tender experience, for facilitators and participants. Enjoy!
NOTE: Examples below are ones we commonly use in multi-group skills workshops and retreats. You can adapt them for your meetings, trainings, or any shared space. The key to name the aspects of diversity that are important to your group and its goals.
“I’d like to welcome OR welcome to… (and then facilitator names)
- People of all genders (this may include people who identify as women, men, cis, trans, nonbinary, gender-queer, or others)
- People of African descent, Black, African American, Asian descent, Arab descent, European descent. Those who identify as Hispanic, Latinx, people Indigenous to this land, and people of mixed, multiple descents.
- Languages spoken here (try to know as many ahead of time or ask people to name them): Spanish, English, Indigenous languages, Sign Language, etc.
- People of different class backgrounds (working class, middle class, owning class, or who aren’t sure where they fit on the class spectrum – there’s not much support for us, in the US, to develop a shared language around class)
- People who currently struggle with getting access to the resources necessary for survival (like healthcare, adequate housing, reliable transportation, childcare), and people who currently have more access to those resources.
- Specifically name cities/states/provinces/countries represented (depending on the group) – pause and invite more input
- People with disabilities, visible or invisible
- Gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, pansexual, queer, or others for whom none of the labels fit
- Your bodies and the different ways you experience yours (this may include chronic pain, strength, tension, etc.)
- People who identify as activists, and people who don’t
- Single, married, partnered, dating, in monogamous or polyamorous relations
- Those who are sexually active and those who aren’t
- Those in their teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s (depending on group)
- Your emotions: joy & bliss, grief, rage, indignation, contentment, disappointment
- Those who support you to be here
- Your families, genetic and otherwise
- People with different faiths, religious traditions, faith practices, private practices don’t belong to a tradition, agnostics, atheists, seekers
- Those dear to us who have died
- Our elders: Those here in this room, in our lives, and those who have passed away
What are some of the other aspects of our diversity that you would like to welcome into this space? (Include what’s suggested from participants.)
- Yes, and finally I’d like to welcome the ancestors who lived and live in this land where we are now… [opportunity to include an Indigenous land acknowledgement]. Welcome.”
How to do online …
The Diversity Welcome is a powerful tool for opening online spaces. When leading online, consider aspects of diversity related to your virtual spaces. Here are some examples:
- Your feelings about [meeting/learning] online. Some of you may find it daunting and some of you may be in your element, all of it is welcomed.
- Those of you who have parental or caregiver duties during this time and those who don’t.
- The different time zones and locations in this space [you can name a few of the places connected].
- Your bodies into this space, maybe bring some awareness to parts that are tense or take a deep breath. We sometimes forget that we have bodies when we’re online!