Restorative Culture: Diversity, Inclusion & Equity in Action

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© Copyright 2018 William A. Bledsoe, Ph.D.

It’s not enough to profess these values. They have to be alive in how we interact with each other.

Communication scholars see culture as a manifestation of communication and interaction. Whatever values, principles, or beliefs a community professes become real, felt, and therefore present in how people communicate with each other on a daily basis, regardless of the circumstance.

This includes how the organization/school communicates with its members and how members communicate with each other.

  • Policies which formalize procedures and responses to situations and events
  • Formal processes for resolving issues and making decisions
  • Both formal and informal communication practices which guide important/strategic discussions and interactions
  • Casual/informal interpersonal conversations with or about other people as well as issues in the workplace

Any organization or community’s values and principles are put to the test when there is change, crisis, conflict, entrenched disagreement, or incident of antisocial behavior. If we profess respect for diversity, inclusion and equity, then those values need to be present in how we interact with each other in challenging moments when emotions are strong.

To respect diversity we don’t just observe it happening “over there” or in “that culture.” We have to learn to engage with the people right in front of us. Especially those we disagree with or imagine as “different.”

A few years ago I created the 7 Principles of Restorative Communication to help schools, businesses and organizations develop communication habits that are pro-social and relationship centered. If respect-based communication is the norm, conflict and misconduct can be processed with purpose, dignity and grace.

  • Diversity – different perspectives, histories, experiences and identities are respected
  • Inclusion – all stakeholder’s perspectives, concerns and needs are integral to any resolution or decision-making
  • Equity – resolutions and decisions are not only just and fair, but are viewed as an investment in a healthy and moral social fabric

When a school commits to using restorative communication by implementing a Whole-School Restorative Program to address conflict and misconduct between any of its members, students not only learn about these 3 values conceptually, but experience them in action.

READ PART TWO: Implementing Whole-School Restorative Communication: Policy

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