Some time ago at 365 Saturday Amsterdam I had the privilege to host a Diversity & Inclusion round-table discussion. With a small but diverse group of people from different genders and nationalities we talked about what diversity means for us, what we can do to make our companies more diverse and we shared personal examples about good ways to make diversity work well.

One of the stories that really inspired me was about a team working for a Dutch company with people from a lot of different nationalities working together. They bridged the gap between the different cultures with curiosity and originality. Lots of nationalities also means lots of different native languages. So the team picks a word every week, the translation of this word in all the native languages of the team members is written down somewhere visible for all the team to see regularly and everybody tries to learn this word in each other’s native language. Another thing they do to celebrate each other’s culture that when they have a team outing they eat at a restaurant serving the food from the home countries of one of the team members.

This example demonstrates some of the key elements we saw in boosting diversity: interest in one another’s language and celebrating the differences.

In this example the languages were literally totally different. But the same goes for differences regarding the use of a language by different groups from the same society – whether different gender groups or different background or from different parts of the same country. Taking the time to learn to understand each other’s languages or how we use and interpret the same language differently, can help in making diversity work out well.

This also means taking time to think about the language you use in writing your job description. Different people respond in different ways to certain words, expressions or styles of writing. Our usual way of writing or choosing words might not attract the people we are looking for, but more of the same we already have.

To end this summary of our discussion a list of some other things we think helps in boosting diversity:

  • Celebrate the differences
  • Take an interest in people who are different than you are
  • Think about the way you express yourself and how people react to that
  • Be open to new ways to do things
  • Learn from each other
  • Be not easily offended