Let’s talk about the subject so many of us are talking about and so many are avoiding to talk about. Yet, it is right in front of us every single day - the lack of diversity and inclusivity in so many industries.
We live in a world that is made up of different kinds of people; different races, cultures, believes, physical abilities and genders. As a society we tend to focus on what makes us different from the person sitting next to us. The truth is, we all - as humans - have more in common with each other than what makes us different. I personally choose to focus more on something I have in common with somebody else.
I believe life in general would be much better, if we look at someone as a person, first and foremost.
Lately, because of social media and the many equality movements rising up around the world, the lack of diversity in the mainstream media and in various industries, is being highlighted and rightly so.
I know what this feels like (Ha, the stories I can share are too long for a blogpost). I have experienced many forms of subtle and direct racism and direct exclusivity my whole life. Yet it does not stop me from doing what I want, or treating people differently, or claiming my seat at any table. I do this in my own way - by being myself, by being kind, but direct. Setting clear boundaries for what I will tolerate and what definitely not. My grandma and my parents raised me to be better than the person who wants to hurt me with their words or actions. And I have two girls who I’m teaching the same.
Throughout my entire life, I’ve been in many situations where I was the only woman in a room. The only black woman in a room. The only Dutch black woman in a room. Now, I could choose to let that set me apart or try to blend in. I always choose to be myself and I will not try to blend in at all. I simply take up the space that I know I have the right to be in. And if I’m new somewhere, I introduce myself first as Maureen and try to read the room’s energy - do I invest my time to immerse or not? Do I want to be here? If so, I continue as Maureen. Period. I don’t let other people’s assumption about me stop me.
But I’ve always asked to who ever wanted to listen or to the person who was in charge: Where are my fellow ladies? Where are my fellow black ladies? Where are my fellow foreign ladies? Why are they not invited, included, or even thought about?
I’ve asked these questions in boardrooms - when I worked at multiple companies on higher management levels and was the only black woman - for years.
I’ve asked these questions at photoshoots - when I worked as a hair & make-up artist. At the international train company - where I worked as the only black woman hostess at that time. At the international interior fairs - where I worked on the international trade shows, yet again, part of only a handful of black women.
I’ve asked these questions at the coffee mornings I attended when we moved to a new country - where is the diversity in this room? I was missing the inclusivity of people who did not look like most people in that room.
Why am I sharing this?
Because I see the rise of hatred growing in today’s world. Because I see the lack of diversity in magazines, panels, trade shows, events, boardrooms, editors and the lifestyle industry. It’s getting to a point that making people more aware of this, should not be a subject to avoid. We life in a diverse world - we should see that reflected more. And yes, I know, there are so many people already doing this, but more needs to be done to see more inclusivity in more sectors.
Who is not invited? Why not?
I know this is a broad subject, one we could talk much more about than only in a blogpost. But my hope is, the next time you are in a place where there is no diversity or you find yourself in a position of influence, to think about the lack of inclusivity. When you read a magazine or a blog where they list “All Women / The Experts / The Industry Best / The Top Ten Mothers” etc, etc….
I hope you will stop to think about what it means, to see no inclusivity in what you are reading or consuming.
Six little words.
Spread the question.
“Who is not in the room?”