Diversity, and especially inclusion, are sensitive topics that are not easily approached without the necessary caution. In other articles of this Very HOC News, figures are cited that show that our Brussels House of Communication is effectively diverse - there is no doubt about that. However, like in any diverse environment, it is also very important to treat each other fairly and respectfully. This subtle distinction between diversity and inclusion is the focus of this article. As such, qualitative interviews were conducted with several colleagues of our agency, in which they were given the floor to express their understanding of the word diversity, their positive and negative experiences related to it, and last but not least, their suggestions for improvement.
According to Cambridge Dictionary, diversity is “The fact of many different types of things or people being included in something; a range of different things or people”. This definition is very wide-ranging, something that later held true throughout the interviews. In addition to the more often cited background, religion, sexual orientation and gender; participants also mentioned open mindedness, different mindsets, belief and value systems, positive attitudes and communication skills as relevant aspects of diversity.
The various participants were generally positive about respectful and fair treatment inside the agency. This is apparently due to the agency’s culture of diversity, but it is also a reflection of a society in change, where progress is slowly being made. The participants feel a common sense of acceptance and belonging, partly thanks to the fact that diversity is a reality up until the highest levels of the company. Being able to relate to someone inside the management team turns out to be a comforting thought for many employees.
Nevertheless, there is of course still room for improvement in some areas. Like everywhere else, there still is a dominant culture and train of thought, and it isn’t always easy to adapt to this. Being on the same wavelength as your colleagues is undeniably harder in a diverse environment since it requires everyone to possess a minimal amount of maturity and open-mindedness.
To make sure of this, various interesting suggestions were made. For example, several participants felt that an agency where diversity and inclusion are part of the culture, should subtly remind this to everyone from time to time. It was suggested to recurrently point out to everyone that tolerance and open-mindedness are continuously important. They also thought it would be a good idea to work with a diversity-related charity to show our commitment. Finally, one participant suggested appointing a so-called “diversity manager”, who would be a central point of contact within the agency.
What everyone agreed on was that an environment that encourages diversity is good, but an environment where it is valued is even better, a view that is shared and deeply rooted in the vision and culture of our agency. Serviceplan Belgium is committed to continuing to make the most out of this, thanks to various initiatives - like this month’s Very HOC News.