Diversity is a way of life
Diversity, a way of life
Diversity is a way of life not an initiative. In the past few weeks I have been seeing just how productive and rich our world is when we live in this way.
I recently went on vacation overseas. For me, whenever I travel, whether it is for work or for vacation, I love the sheer diversity of people I get to meet, as we laugh together, talk about our life stories, build shared experiences. This visit was no different. I got to speak about and learn a little about the lives of some of the people who work where I was staying.
Learning life stories
One of the many people I got to know a little in my short time there, is a lady called Liza. She works at the beach bar and restaurant. Liza takes justifiably enormous pride in her work and is fully committed to being the best she can be in her role.
One day we were talking about her work. She told me, with no feelings of self-pity, that before 2020 she had found it incredibly difficult to get a job. She told me that nobody would take her on because of her hair. Call me naïve, but until she mentioned it I hadn’t noticed it. I only saw a kind hearted, full of life person. I glanced at her hair and noticed the dreadlocks.
Giving people chances
She told me that after 2020 however things changed and she was so proud of getting her first role with the hotel and in housekeeping. She loved her work and in her free time got to know the menus of the restaurants, spoke to the sommelier about the wines that would go well with the menu choices and built her knowledge up quietly.
One of her colleagues told the main restaurant manager about her, how she worked hard quietly in her own time to learn about the food and wine. The manager spoke to Liza and offered her a role. She spoke with joy about this and it was wonderful to see another person in front of you humbly telling their story.
I spoke to the manager as he too is one of those people who really commit to their work, being genuinely interested in the guests and also very humble, kind and full of life. I told him how much I like and admire Liza. His face came alive with just how much he wanted to tell me about his admiration and respect for her. He retold the story from his viewpoint but with Liza at the centre, not the part he played.
Diversity is a way of life and not an initiative, what I saw was people seen as people and pure potential and full of their own life stories. When we come together with all of our experiences and backgrounds we create something special, strong and growing because of this.
Back in the UK
My first day back from vacation was spent participating in the Diversity in Tech Conference in partnership with Computer Weekly and Tyl by NatWest. In this room were so many women in Tech, from hugely varied backgrounds, all committed to sharing generously their knowledge and experience and helping other people see that a career in Tech is a fantastic choice. I was really pleased to see even more men in the room too. In the Tech industry at the current rate of change we do not expect women to be 50% of the workforce until 2060.
Why would we settle for that? I heard and saw many people in that room that day making sustainable change every day. I like to think that if I could hover above the earth and look into many companies and events being run that day I would have heard similar stories. When we act together we can achieve anything.
We have a long way to go to balance our world up so that all of us get to participate and belong, yet I feel hopeful that there are so many great people who every day are dedicated to making a lasting difference in our world so that everyone is included.