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Inclusion and diversity in the
age of Trump

'President for all Americans' – these were the words stated by Donald Trump during his election night victory speech on November 9 2016.

In the last 16 months, however, policies and actions have come in place that many may argue go against the ideology of 'one nation' that Trump promised to create. Policies such as the 'Muslim ban' and the directive to exclude transgender people from the military have caused many to question the boundaries of inclusion under a Trump presidency.

In his latest article, Dr. Bernardo Ferdman highlights the different views on inclusion in relation to the Trump Presidency. The first of these views holds that inclusion requires newcomers to accept and adopt the values, norms, and premises of the prior members. An example of this is Trump’s campaign to ‘make America great again’. Ferdman argues that this view does not value diversity and may result in the opposite of inclusion. Another view, which can also be seen to be problematic, is that there should be ‘unconditional inclusion for all’, meaning all speakers and any form of protest or dissent should be welcome, regardless of the extremity of the views expressed or the manner of doing so. This again can become problematic and lead to the acceptance of intolerant behaviour and to undermining inclusion.

The most fitting view regarding inclusion is one in which inclusion is seen as an evolving process, one that requires continuously considering and addressing practices, norms, and agreements, and that can involve limits on what is acceptable at the same time that there is room for many ways of being and contributing – full inclusion in this view does not mean that everyone assimilates. Inclusion is an active process that should be practiced on an ongoing basis; it is not an action that is done once and can then be forgotten.

So how exactly should diversity and inclusion advocates drive for inclusion and diversity in the age of Trump? You can sit back and watch, or you can use this as an opportunity to learn, develop, and apply inclusive mindsets and expand inclusion.

  1. Listen to different viewpoints

    When highlighting the importance of inclusion, be willing to accept others' views and opinions. Understanding these differences will not only allow you to gain a broader understanding into what is preventing inclusion from happening, but how you can go about overcoming these barriers. Next time someone disagrees with you, model inclusion by letting them challenge your beliefs and by truly listening to their viewpoint.

  2. Talk about inclusion more

    Don't be afraid to speak openly about inclusion; in fact, speak about it more. There are frequent articles and opinion pieces in mainstream media about racism and inclusion and more CEOs and leaders are now speaking up, engaging in the conversation, and addressing their commitment to diversity and inclusion. The more you speak about inclusion and make it the norm, the more you increase the chances of creating inclusive communities.

  3. Create and promote inclusive norms and values

    When taking part in open discussions regarding inclusion be aware of the risks involved. For example, protests over the lack of free speech on college campuses in the USA have turned into a divisive and polarizing debate; yet, if addressed and framed differently there is the possibility to use the opportunity make room for diverse perspectives in an inclusive and respectful way. Clear and firm boundaries and norms regarding what constitutes allowable expressions of views (i.e., allowable speech), based on inclusive norms, need to be set. This will open the doors for opportunities where people can come together in diverse settings to practice inclusive behaviour.

As you look to the future of inclusion and diversity you must remember to always have an open mind. Listening to other perspectives, especially if they are different to your own, will allow you to move one step closer in creating more inclusive communities. At the same time, it is important to continue to expand, test, and hold to the boundaries of inclusion.

To find out more about the impact of Donald Trump on inclusion, read the research paper 'In Trump's shadow: questioning and testing the boundaries of inclusion', published in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal.

Meet the researcher

Image: Bernardo M. Ferdman.Bernardo M. Ferdman, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus,
California School of Professional Psychology
Alliant International University, San Diego
Principal, Ferdman Consulting, San Diego, CA, USA

Bernardo M. Ferdman, PhD is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University, and a Leadership and OD Consultant and CCE Board Certified Coach ( with over three decades of experience working with diverse groups and organizations to increase individual and collective effectiveness and inclusion. He consults, coaches, writes, speaks, teaches, and conducts research on inclusion, diversity, and inclusive leadership. He is passionate about helping to create an inclusive world where more of us can be fully ourselves and accomplish our goals in ways that are effective, productive, and authentic.

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