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International Day for Tolerance

People & Culture

Every year, the International Day for Tolerance is observed on the 16th of November, as declared by UNESCO, to generate public awareness about the importance of tolerance and the dangers of intolerance. 

Tolerance is about celebrating what makes us similar and learning to recognise, accept and respect our differences. There is such a rich variety of cultures, of forms of expression and ways of being human. And, it is through tolerance, that our uniqueness can thrive and survive.

How can we promote tolerance in our workplaces?

Celebrate the diversity in your workforce and lead by example

We are all different, so why not celebrate! Whether it’s our gender, ethnicity, religious affiliations, political views, favourite sports’ team, or something else that makes us different – there are so many reasons to celebrate diversity in the workplace. 

Start a dialogue about intolerance and set clear expectations

Our attitudes and beliefs are deeply ingrained. They are often a result of our upbringing.  Consciously, we may not think we are intolerant, but these attitudes may be disguised as humour or generalised assumptions, and we may not even be aware of them.  Within the workplace, it is important to hold open discussions of how stereotyping, insulting or teasing different types of people express intolerance. And from there begin defining what it means in your team to behave respectfully, sensitively and tolerantly.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you bring a fair and open-minded approach to your role?
  • Are you able to reflect on your own biases and try to limit the impact these biases have on your interactions with others?

Spread the word

Promote ways in which your team works to foster tolerance, cultural understanding and cooperation.  If your team holds a ‘Share a Plate Day’ bringing together dishes from different cuisines, share this on social media or your organisation’s intranet.  Or if you choose to dress in your sporting team’s colours before the big game, promote the ways in which you celebrate diversity in your workplace. 

Be accountable

Lastly, be accountable.  It starts with you!  Show people that insensitive, disrespectful and intolerant behaviour is unacceptable and does belong in your workplace.

“A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.” - Muslim Origin

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