Tolerance and diversity are terms that refer to a way of thinking about, and behaving toward, other people. In modern debate, both deal with creating a fairer society where everyone is treated the same and has the same opportunities, without prejudice arising from their physical or social characteristics. Countries across the world are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of society and people, so in response, attitudes and behaviors must change to preserve harmony and equality.

Diversity

Diversity refers to the existence of differences within a group. A diverse group of people might differ in age, gender, sexuality, religion, class, disability, ethnicity, race and background.

Tolerance

Tolerance is the level of ability that someone has to recognize and respect other people’s values and beliefs. It also refers to the level of acceptance people offer toward those who are different from themselves, for example, in terms of ethnicity, religion and age. Being tolerant means accepting diversity and not expressing negative attitudes toward people who are different.

Equality

A third term, equality, often appears alongside tolerance and diversity. Equality is the notion of creating a fairer society where everyone has the same opportunities to fulfill their own potential, free from discrimination. Opportunities might refer to those within health care and employment. Equality, like tolerance and diversity, also applies at group level and not only to individuals—for example, allowing one racial community the same social benefits as a neighboring racial community.

Importance of Tolerance and Diversity

Many countries have policies on tolerance, equality and diversity, such as the UK. Legislation promotes these concepts in all its actions, for example by taking into account the needs of disabled people with regard to access to buildings or the provision of mental health care. Other initiatives, such as eliminating sex or disability discrimination, promoting positive attitudes toward minority groups, and providing support services for those in need, also progress from a legal standpoint. Workplaces benefit from tolerance and diversity because, aside from ensuring every applicant receives a fair chance of employment, diversity brings a greater range of skills and knowledge resources to an organization. Tolerance leads to reduced crime, because negative attitudes such as racial hatred aren't present. Overall, tolerance helps foster a fairer and more balanced society, where people behave with dignity and respect, and isolation and segregation are concepts of the past.