Updated: May 18, 2020
By Nadja-Timea Scherrer, Transcultural Impact Strategist at plus305
Ok, this isn't my quote, but it's great. I just read an article about UN Women hosting the first high-level event on gender diversity and non-binary identities at the UN headquarters and I can only say: it is about time and it is a shame that some groups still have to fight for basic human rights.
But why is it so difficult for people to promote diversity and inclusion?
A lot has been talked about unconscious bias lately. But there is also the fact that what you know feels safe. What you dont' know doesn't. And of course, the current amount of fear-based rhetoric fueling a collective state of uncertainty is not helping either.
So, let’s just say: by nature, the human species is not very inclined to diversity.
Even though many studies like this one show that diversity actually empowers science and innovation to just name a few positive impacts.
Being a partner at the Impact Marketing Boutique plus305 where we are committed to the 17 UN Development Goals, I have been personally involved with promoting diversity in the corporate world. One of our projects is the online Global Impact Women’s Network Sisterhood Tribes which within just one year was able to engage more than 2,200 women from over 40 countries with the goal to promote intercultural understanding.
Questions foster Dialogue
In the month of June, which was Pride Month, we have been very actively speaking out for gender diversity, gay people, and non-binary identities. And I was quite surprised to find some very straight-forward questions in my inbox.
I've been asked if I am gay because I have promoted pride month and I've been asked if I am a feminist because I’ve created a Women’s Network.
And let me tell you: I love these questions. Because for one, questions foster dialogue and two, questions express a certain trust which is the basis of every fruitful intercultural conversation. After all, democracy is based on conversations that integrate different views.
My answer was: no, I am not gay but I want to be a voice for those who are not treated equally. I know that there are some traditions which cannot accept this. I respect their opinion as long as they are not causing any harm. But I believe in equality and inclusion of all living beings.
Through our impact campaigns at plus305, we work towards reducing these mental barriers that wecreate between ourselves and the other, the presumablydifferent, the unknown...
Once we consciously decide to overcome our fears of the unknown, we realize that we don't have to be what werecognize and embrace.
And no, I am not a feminist either. I don't like what the word nowadays stands for. It has become a pejorative term. I don't want to be regarded as a victim and I actually appreciate men. But I am FOR EQUALITY and I believe in people empowering each other.
Why Equality doesn't happen over Night
Even though a lot has been achieved in terms of equality, diversity, and inclusion, there is still a long way to go. Especially in some parts of the world but also in places where we may not expect it.
In my home country of Switzerland, for instance, we introduced equality in the law 37 years ago but many business practices are still making equality impossible. After all, equality has to happen in our minds and hearts, also in women's and other marginalized groups’ but this change of behavior takes time. Having worked in the intercultural field for many years, I have come to believe that awareness is usually the first step, but even more importantly, it has to be followed by action-oriented and structural change through regulations and quotas geared towards the system rather than just the individual's behaviour. Once this transitioning phase is completed, they may be loosened again. The reason why quotas are so efficient is that unconscious bias is, well, unconscious.
At plus305, we believe that authentic communication and structural, action-oriented goals can bring about behavioral transformation and ultimately social change.
If you are not of the same opinion, please feel free to share it below. Let’s get this dialogue started!