Defining Open Systems: Diversity, Representation, and Equity

Defining Open SystemsBy Sunshine Lampitoc

As part of Emergence, Emerging Arts Professional’s daylong annual convening on June 3, 2013, a panel discussed what it means for a system to be open and healthy.

Defining Diversity and Open Systems

Defining and creating open systems involves many components but, for some reason, “diversity” has become the catch-all term for discussions about changing population demographics, inclusion, equity, and representation.

However, Lynn Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Glitter & Razz Productions points out that “diversity can’t be the only component, and it can’t be the lead component.” Each of these aspects requires unpacking on their own, both on individual and systemic levels, before any type of movement or change can be planned or enacted.

Defining these potentially loaded terms and concepts is the first process dancer and organizational equity consultant Tammy Johnson goes through with organizations.

“Let’s get clarity,” she states. What is the definition of diversity? Inclusion? Equity? What does all this stuff mean when the rubber hits the road?” To enact systemic change, it is immensely important for everyone to be starting on the same page and speaking the same language.

Parsing the diversity of thought that exists within diversity conversations is the first step in addressing how a truly open system can be created.