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Have you ever had that feeling of ease when you are in a crowd of people and fully fit in? They have a similar background and lifestyle as you, they speak the same language and share similar hobbies. It’s the same feeling you get when you buy a piece of clothing that is so comfortable that it feels like an extended part of your body. I have never felt that way. I was born in Africa, my parents come from completely different cultures, during my childhood years I moved from one country to another every four years, and I was raised trilingual. On top of that I studied Strategic Product Design at the Delft University of Technology and ended up working at IBM, one of the biggest technology companies in the world. This was back in the day when a designer used to be the strange duckling in technology environments… talk about diversity!
I have never felt at home anywhere and used to find peace of mind in the idea of being ‘international’ and ‘different’. Instead of struggling with my unusual background, I’ve come to embrace it; embracing the diversity. Because of this I can relate to the women in the movie ‘Hidden Figures’ as well as IBM’s belief in both diversity of thought and diversity of people.
“Embracing diversity might just help us come up with the next big thing.”
During my design studies, I learned the value of working in teams with diverse backgrounds to come up with the best results and most creative ideas. It is essential for people to work in an environment where they are encouraged to initiate and create. This is also what IBM stands for. Consciously building diverse teams and encouraging diversity of ideas helps us make the greatest impact for others. ‘Hidden Figures’ reminded me of just that.
In the movie, the three African American women demonstrate how diversity, team work and technology enabled one of the biggest innovations yet: the human landing on the moon. So, I would like to ask you to embrace whatever makes you different, as this might just be what your team needs to come up with the next big thing.
Want to know more? Have a look at Hidden Figures, diversity and inclusion at IBM or Cognitive Business at IBM.