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It’s been said before, but certainly bears repeating: diversity is more than skin deep. Whether you’re facing differences in cultural upbringing, varied work experience, or simply opposing definitions of “common sense,” everyone is diverse in their own way. And since we’re all invested, we’re only hurting ourselves if we turn a blind eye to diversity.

But does that mean everyone needs to be an activist? Do we have to devote our whole lives to diversity efforts, or is there a middle ground?

Olivier Fabre, video journalist and diversity consultant at Pride House Tokyo Legacy, joins us to discuss how anyone can be a force for positive change.

“Activists are just the torchbearers of whatever ideal you’re looking for. The people following those torches are the ones that are going to make the most impact.”

Olivier Fabre

Transcript:

What is diversity, anyway?

Olivier Fabre:

Personally, [I think] diversity is what makes everyone. It is basically every single difference a person brings to the table. That is what diversity is. It’s often seen in very simplistic terms with labels. I think labels are just one easy way to identify diversity, but it’s a bit more than that. I think everybody’s diverse in so many different ways that diversity is about more than just women, men, LGBTQ+, and whatnot. So, you know, it’s a very broad understanding of what humanity is in a way.

Do you need to be an activist to make a difference?

Fabre:

I don’t think you need to be an activist to make an impact. I think, in fact, activists are just the torchbearers of whatever ideal you’re looking for. I think the people following those torches or following that path are the ones that are going to make the most impact. And I’m talking about even in a company, at home, making small changes in the way they speak and the way they talk about diversity and inclusion, if that’s what we’re talking about. They’re the ones that make the biggest impact.

The activists are always the minority, even the minority within the minorities. So their impact is going to be based on how many people actually listen to them and also do what is best for that cause. So, I think the biggest impact [comes from] those in companies that ask HR to change the policies on same-sex partners or talk to the bosses about . . . gender or unconscious bias.

They are not necessarily activists, but it’s the people on the ground [who] are doing the legwork on a daily basis that are actually the ones that make the most impact.

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How can business leaders handle diversity fairly?

Fabre:

It’s not about just picking, “Okay, I’ve got an LGBTQ member in my team, I’ve got a woman on my team, I’ve got somebody of a different background on my team, and that’s done.” It’s actually ensuring that those that don’t have the proper training management to be in that team actually get it.

I see a lot of women being placed in positions where they’re made to fail at the end because they don’t have the training. They don’t have the network. And it backfires in the sense that people then say, “Well, you know, that’s because we put a woman in charge.” It’s like, well, you didn’t train her. You didn’t let her be herself.

And I don’t think it’s only women. I personally felt that, as a member of the LGBTQ community, I didn’t have the old boys’ network in my company, or the mentorship group in my company, either. So it’s not just women. Minorities, I’m sure, in countries where there are a lot of minorities, will also probably feel the same. So ensuring that training is in place is very important.

What is diversity of thought?

Fabre:

Diversity is always seen as, you know, the color of your skin, your sexuality, or your gender, or your physical abilities. But I think it’s diversity of thought, as well. And I think it’s extremely important to be able to accept and understand that people have different opinions. Some of them—not all the opinions will be agreeable to you. You might find some very disagreeable. But at the same time, they’re still human, and that’s part of the diversity. And you might not reach a consensus, but it’s important that you try and talk to each other.

Who is diversity really for?

Fabre:

I think you get people saying, “Oh, all this diversity stuff, it’s just—I’m not part of it. It’s got nothing for me.”

It is for everyone, in many ways. And it needs to be an issue everybody feels close to and not ostracized [from] because it’s “just the LGBTQ,” it’s “just women,” or it’s “just” a different minority.

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