What does tolerance look like today?

As we approach this year’s International Day for Tolerance on Nov. 16, our nation finds itself in the throes of a pandemic which has disproportionately impacted communities of color, embroiled in divisive political turmoil, and confronted by examples of rampant systemic racism. The need to spend time on themes of respect and tolerance – here, now – is especially potent. 
 
The 1996 United Nations declaration that established the observance “affirms that tolerance is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.” What does that look like in 2020? 
  
For us, the question brings opportunity. Opportunity to learn, ask and reflect – but also to plan, execute and lead. Our agency continues to work hard to educate ourselves and find actionable, meaningful ways to make a difference in our agency, our community and our industry, and to make our process available to others who are interested. 
  
Here are some ideas inspired by the UN’s countering intolerance platform that LGA is working to put into practice:  

  • Educate yourself on the history of discriminatory policies in your industry and community so that you are more aware and better prepared to counter such policies in your daily life. 
    • LGA’s Racial Justice Task Force is conducting research and bringing in subject matter experts on diversity and inclusion to uncover barriers we may have unintentionally set in our own hiring practices and implement appropriate steps to remedy those. 
  • Get involved with local civic organizations or government offices to ensure laws and ordinances promote human rights and are free of discrimination based on ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and more.  
    • LGA’s Black Lives Matter Slack channel has become a space where staff members can share resources or information about actions they’re taking to create a more just world and invite others to do the same.  
    • We’ve also done work this year for organizations like United Way and Roof Above whose missions are rooted in justice and tolerance.  
  • Ensure the news you consume and share publicly is based on facts and not opinion, which can breed hatemongering.  
    • As a communications agency, we pride ourselves on being informed and providing clients with factual, unbiased news as we navigate issues. Our expertise is only valuable if it is based in truth, and we exclusively work with news outlets and journalists that harbor that same attitude.  

And so, just as we move forward with our commitment to self-examination, we encourage those reading this to use this International Day for Tolerance to look inward, examine your personal biases, and challenge yourself to find one way you can open yourself up to a new way of thinking before the year’s end.   
 
As we head toward the closing of the 2020 chapter and the beginning of a new year, we hope that our world and those leading it will enact policies that resist influences that lead to fear and exclusion of “the other” and instead embrace the world’s many ethnicities, sexualities, religions, languages and cultures as the gifts they are.