Diversity and Inclusion: what’s the difference? Why should we care?

Post in: German

A special and unusual event occurred on June 23 in Frankfurt on the rooftop and meeting rooms of the 25 Hours Hotel by Levi’s — yes, the denim jeans company Levi’s helped design the hotel. Thus we all wore jeans and sneakers (well, I didn’t, but that’s more because I don’t wear jeans to give professional talks – I gave them a denim jacket to blend with the atmosphere) and some lounged on bean bags and the walls were covered with hip artwork and funny sayings.
Accenture, the consulting company, invited 50 young people from across Germany, or “talents” as they are called in the “industry,” to come to Frankfurt for two days to learn about a diversity of topics, from high tech futures to unconscious bias. I opened the learning part of the two-day “LiftOff!” Festival with a talk on diversity and inclusion. The crowd was fantastic: active, open-minded, interested — and the unusual setting and fun atmosphere made it a talk to remember, also for me.
Diversity is being invited to attend a dance event. Inclusion is dancing, not just watching the others dance! The metaphors to explain the difference between diversity and inclusion: Diversity is being allowed to sit at the table or being invited to attend a dance event. Inclusion is being able to speak and be heard at the table, or dancing, not just watching the others dance! Diversity is being allowed to sit at the table. Inclusion is being able to speak and be heard at the table!
Also memorable was my first facebook live interview on diversity. The punchline there: we don’t care about some kinds of physical diversity, like whether or not one can roll ones tongue or not (genetically determined). We do tend to overemphasize other kinds of physical diversity that also have nothing to do with ability. So those who go through life being treated differently and “othered” due to their visible difference category develop different perspectives and approaches that are enriching also over and above the diversity of perspectives, personalities, talents, and interests that everyone brings just by being a unique human being.
I wasn’t able to stay the whole time, but I hope and trust that the event was enriching for all, and I was glad to be a part of it! Due to many requests for my presentation, it’s now available here.

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