Beyond Diversity - 12 Non-Obvious Ways To Create A More Inclusive World

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Beyond Diversity Book Cover - Yellow background with five rows of three circles each with a different letter of the title juxtaposed on top of a colorful circle containing piece of mosaic art. The letters "B" and "E" on the top line and the letters "I" and "T" on the last line are in black without a background mosaic, spelling the hidden message "BE IT" as a reminder to the reader that the book is meant to inspire them to take action to help build a more inclusive world.
What does it take to build a more inclusive world? In this groundbreaking and WSJ bestselling book, two pioneers of the DEI revolution break down exactly how each of us can help to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive world - in business, culture and life.



On a cavernous soundstage in Denmark, groups of people file

in one by one. They are clearly different from one another. One

group walks in with tattoos. Another, all female, is wearing

medical uniforms in various colors. There is an all-White group,

right alongside one that includes people visibly from multiple

ethnicities. Each group stands apart, staring uncomfortably at

one another for what seems like an eternity.

Finally, a host comes in to explain what is about to happen.

"I'm going to ask you some questions today," he says. "Some of

them may be a bit personal, but I hope you will answer them


The first question immediately reduces the tension. "Which one

of you was the class clown?" A smattering of people from each

cluster comes forward. They line up together on the far side of the

room and stand in front of a screen posing for a group photo. The

session continues with a range of other unexpected questions.

Who among you are stepparents? Who has been bullied? Who

has been a bully? Who feels lonely? After each question, people

come together, embrace, pose for a photograph, and return to

their group.

The point of the exercise soon becomes clear to every participant:

they are celebrating their similarities instead of their differences.

Watch the TV2 social experiment video at

This social experiment was conceived and filmed several years ago

to promote Denmark's most-watched family of channels, TV2.

Titled "All That We Share," the campaign ran on Danish television

and was later released globally on YouTube.1 It quickly went viral,

racking up nearly 300 million views and winning a prestigious

Gold Cannes Lion award.

This focus on similarities is sadly missing in many conversations

happening about diversity and inclusion across the world. It is

a rarely spotlighted irony that so much of the dialogue about

diversity ends up emphasizing what sets us apart instead.

You can see this splintered approach in the structure of many

live and virtual events aimed at exploring the theme of diversity.

There are conferences dedicated to racial justice, reducing gender

discrimination at work, advocating for LGBTQ+ legislation,

eliminating ageism at work, creating more accessible digital

content for people with disabilities, making corporate boards

more inclusive, and much more.

These conferences host important conversations-and they offer

a safe space for people who have been excluded and marginalized

to share their experiences freely and have their points of view

heard and discussed. They play an essential role in our evolving

conversation about diversity and equity.

And yet, they are not enough.

These often-insular conversations about diversity don't reflect the

reality of our intersecting identities. As the TV2 viral experiment

so powerfully illustrates, none of us fits neatly into a single category.

We exist through intersections, but our conversations about

diversity regularly push us to pick one dimension of ourselves

at the expense of others. These dimensions are the lenses that

shape how we perceive our place in the world. Being Hispanic,

or female, or gay, or over 50, or disabled, or any combination of

identities helps us zoom in on a unique perspective of the world.

But while zoom lenses are helpful for focusing on details, they are

intentionally designed to ignore the full picture.

If there is one shortcoming of the worldwide conversation about

diversity and inclusion, it is this: focusing on only one aspect

of our identities prevents the opportunity to better understand

ourselves and others outside that one label.

Instead, there is a concept we will discuss frequently in this book

known as intersectionality. The term, first coined by American

lawyer and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw,

refers to the idea that none of us can be defined by a single label,

but only through a combination of social identities.

Embracing the idea of intersectionality requires us to switch to

a wide-angle lens. What if we had conferences, TV shows, or

corporate recruiting programs dedicated to bringing people and

perspectives together that might never otherwise share the same

space? It is exciting to imagine the sorts of questions and topics

that might arise.

How would someone fighting to end gender pay gaps relate to a

disabled gamer demanding more accessible experiences? What

would an advocate for racial literacy in schools say to a researcher

studying how to end age-related biases at work? What might a

local business fighting to expand broadband internet access for

those living on Native American reservations ask a community

organizer imagining how to transform a neglected local park into

a vibrant urban garden? All of these people are pioneers fighting

for equity, but they rarely (if ever) cross paths.

To truly create a more inclusive world, we need to move beyond the

usual diversity conversations and break down the barriers between

these topics.

"Sometimes the assumptions we make about others

come not from what we have been told or what we have

seen on television or in books, but rather from what we

have not been told."

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, Author and Psychologist

Verna Myers, vice president of inclusion strategy at Netflix,

once said, "diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is

being asked to dance." Her words are often shared by those who

advocate for diversity, but for us, they inspired a question: what

if everyone was not only invited to the party and asked to dance,

but also left with a mixtape filled with music they would love, but

had never had the chance to hear before?

In late 2020, we decided to try and host this type of party. It

started with the idea of a one-day virtual event that would bring

together a dozen or so diversity and inclusion experts from

various fields. Over the next few months, that concept sparked

a whirlwind of hundreds of conversations and 20-hour-days

that would eventually result in the groundbreaking gathering of

voices that inspired this book. It all began, as many great ideas do,

with listening.

The World's Most Ambitious Conversation About Diversity

In 2020, an app called Clubhouse started to take off. A real-time

audio chat room where anyone can start a conversation, the app

owed much of its rapid growth to early popularity with Black

creators and musicians. As a result, users of Clubhouse were highly

likely to enter "rooms" on the platform and hear conversations

hosted by people whose diverse opinions and expertise were

frequently missing from mainstream media.

Plunging into this never-ending stream of conversations, at any

given moment you could hear struggling professionals grappling

with bias in the workplace, while minutes later, you might join a

group of parents talking about accepting their transgender kids.

In a single afternoon, you could participate in conversations about

neurodivergent education, hear immigration questions from

refugees, experience the daily heroism of doctors working on the

front lines to fight COVID-19, debate cultural appropriation and

learn about income inequality.

These are topics many of us who have contributed to this book

deal with every day in our work. To add even more authentic

perspectives to our efforts, we augmented our daily conversations

about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) by dipping in and

out of rooms on Clubhouse and listening to real people share

their experiences and challenges. We also spent the past year

participating in virtual conferences, professional webinars, and

training sessions centered on DEI. We read dozens of reports,

books and magazine articles.

Finally we started putting together a list of topics for our virtual

event. It grew quickly: Women in tech. Inclusive higher education.

Colorism in fashion. Body shaming. Neurodiverse recruiting.

Accessible gaming. Workplace ageism. Racial justice. Image bias.

Pay equity. Gender fluidity. White fragility. Social belonging.

Diverse casting. Representative government. The list goes on.

Along the way, we discovered meaningful conversations already

happening about all these topics amongst experts and advocates.

We discovered that most of them were happening in isolation,

completely separate from one another. It was like seeing an entire

relay contest of athletes racing side by side, with no one passing

any batons. It became clear that creating a conversation where

we connected the dots between these topics would necessitate

something more significant than gathering a dozen smart people

together for one day. So we sent out more inquiries to more people

and engaged the help of additional experts to expand our vision.

By the time the virtual event was broadcast live in late January

2021, we had lined up just over 200 speakers who participated in

more than 50 sessions. Over 75 percent described themselves as

belonging to an underrepresented group. More than two-thirds

identified as a gender other than male. The range of expertise and

topics represented was equally diverse.

Our panel of experts included a widely loved news anchor, a world

record holder as the heaviest person to complete a marathon,

multiple chief diversity officers, the popular voice of an animated

children's TV show character, a master puppeteer, a child abuse

survivor, a former Miss India winner and two hundred others.

Watch all 50+ sessions from the summit at

We called the event the "Non-Obvious Beyond Diversity Summit."

It was Non-Obvious because of the types of conversations we

hoped to curate. And it went Beyond Diversity, because we knew

that if we were truly going to have an impact, we needed to focus

every conversation on tangible actions we could all take to build a

more inclusive world. Our tagline came from one of our speakers

who remarked that the event sounded like "the world's most

ambitious conversation about diversity."

Our "ambitious" conversation was a hit.

Thousands of people watched the event live and commented on

the sessions in real time, and hundreds of thousands watched

them on demand in the months afterward. But the day after the

summit ended, we knew our work had only begun. To share the

insights we heard with a wider audience, we started working

on this book. The first step was to identify twelve themes that

cut across all the sessions. Then we assembled a team of expert

contributors and started writing.

The book you hold in your hands is the final product. It is a

compilation of conversations that we hope will launch you into a

journey to understand people unlike yourself. For us, and perhaps

for you as well, it usually starts with a moment of awakening.

Where Every Diversity

Journey Starts . . .

You may be thinking that the path to experiencing this moment

is someone else's journey to take. Maybe you come from a

marginalized group yourself. Some of you might even be DEI

experts. Or you may already consider yourself to be an ally and

advocate for equity and inclusion through your actions or beliefs.

Wherever you are on your journey, we hope this book and the

stories in it will inspire and motivate you to learn more, speak up

and take action.

"The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty

by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good


Martin Luther King, Jr., Social Activist and Nobel Prize Winner

The first thing you should know is that this book was compiled,

edited and reviewed by dozens of people who believe in the power

of standing up for others. The voices you will see spotlighted in

this book regularly spend their days helping others to be more

open-minded, inclusive and empathetic toward those from

different backgrounds. We all live and breathe this work . . . and

yet for each of us, the process of writing this book has offered a

moment of awakening that we very much needed.

No human is free from bias. What we all must try to do is

recognize and overcome our biases and to see others as having

equal potential.

In the fight for equity, there have always been three parties. Two

are well understood. There are the oppressors, who benefit from

inequity and leverage their power to maintain the status quo. And

there are the oppressed who fight back-sometimes successfully

and sometimes not. These two have been the participants in

every social movement everywhere in the world, whether against

racism and gender-based discrimination or ethnic struggles

between majorities and minorities.

Yet there is, and has always been, a third regularly overlooked

group: the bystanders. These are the people and institutions

who remain on the sidelines by choice or ignorance. Many tell

themselves that the fight isn't their fight. They may not be racist,

but they are also not anti-racist. These are the bystanders, and

their willful silence has also contributed to and shaped human

history. It is time for that to change.

This is a book about being more

than a bystander.

No matter what combination of ethnic, social, gender or cultural

groups you belong to, this book aims to help you and the people

around you achieve a moment of awakening. Perhaps it may help

to start by sharing some of our own.

For Rohit, one of these moments came when he became embroiled

in controversy just months before our summit. In 2020, he

accepted an invitation to deliver a recorded virtual keynote at an

event in Asia about the future of marketing. When the organizers

shared an image on social media promoting the entire list of

headlining speakers, it was obvious that every one of them was

male. The social media backlash started instantly.

Some commenters called for a boycott of the entire event. Others

noted the irony of having only male speakers at an event for an

industry that, by most estimates, is more than 50 percent female.

Dozens suggested that the speakers themselves be held personally

responsible for their complicity in agreeing to speak on a #manel

(a male-only panel).

Despite years of work supporting and writing about more

inclusivity in business, Rohit hadn't thought to check if women

were represented on stage at a conference he had agreed to speak

at. He didn't realize his mistake-until someone else pointed it out.

Rohit apologized and immediately helped the event organizers

seek out female speakers to include. He also converted his solo

session into a panel discussion by inviting two female trend

researchers from his network to share the stage as co-presenters.

The moment reminded Rohit that no matter what work he may

have done in the past, being a vocal ally is a constant challenge.

Today, he is a popular keynote speaker and the founder of the

Non-Obvious Company where he leads a team that produces

content, workshops and signature events designed to help leaders

embrace "non-obvious" perspectives and see what others miss.

"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your

time. But if you have come because your liberation is

bound up with mine, then let us work together."

Lilla Watson, Murri (Indigenous Australian) Artist and Activist

Jennifer recalls a similar moment of awakening to the reality that

the identities we carry can marginalize and separate us from the

mainstream. When she came out as a member of the LGBTQ+

community in her 20s, Jennifer downplayed this part of her

identity in a series of professional roles, from opera singer to

corporate HR professional to entrepreneur. She saw few people

who shared her story-at least publicly-and she didn't feel safe

bringing her full identity to the workplace.

Discovering the LGBTQ+ workplace equality movement shaped

the way she understood her own story of not feeling heard or

respected. The sad reality is that today's work culture remains ill-

suited to people from marginalized communities.

When Jennifer founded her own consulting company 15 years

ago, her struggle for authenticity continued in what was a largely

male-dominated space. She initially built a traditional hierarchy

with many of her mentors and key hires being White men. She felt

vulnerable about her identity as a new entrepreneur and a queer

woman, and feared prospective clients would hold stereotypes or

biases that might hamper her credibility or impact.

At the same time she came to recognize the privilege and

advantages she holds as a White cisgender woman. She

understood that privilege isn't just about what you've experienced

personally during your lifetime; it's also about what you haven't

had to experience.

Today Jennifer describes herself as an "aspiring ally," and taking

action against discrimination and inequities has become the

mission of her company. Jennifer Brown Consulting is a highly

diverse company-led by a diverse team-and has become a

recognized leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion, working

with hundreds of companies. Jennifer has become a renowned

speaker, has written several books on diversity and inclusion,

and she continually uses her platform to amplify the voices of

underrepresented communities.

We are each many identities at once, and each one can influence

our actions. At the same time, we all carry some degree of

privilege. In moments when that privilege is laid bare, we can

choose to silently benefit and remain a bystander, or we can stand

up and try to fix something that is clearly wrong.

"To never think about race means that it doesn't really

shape your life, or more specifically, the race you have is

not a burden to you."

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Professor, Advocate and Author

The ambition of this book is to inspire you to take action when

that moment comes for you-or even better, to create that

moment for yourself.

How To Read This Book . . .

In the chapters that follow, you'll read about twelve themes that

are shaping our world today. For each topic, we will explore how

it is, how it could be, what needs to change on a systemic level

(imperatives), and what you can do today to help bring about this

change (actions).

This is not a research book. This is a do-something book.

By spotlighting the conversations that are already taking place and

celebrating those who are making strides in the world of diversity,

equity and inclusion, we hope to amplify their work, provide

concrete and actionable strategies, and give you a roadmap to

becoming personally involved.

By ending each chapter with specific "Conversation Starters," we

are hoping to spark new conversations that offer opportunities to

align these important but isolated efforts.

The journey to build a more inclusive world must involve all

of us. Along the way we will need to better understand culture,

identity and family. We will have to ask big questions about

how technology, government, education and our workplaces are

structured. Entrepreneurship, leadership and the retail landscape

that surround us also must be part of this conversation. And it all

starts, in our humble opinion, by reimagining the stories we tell

and share with the world.

Our lives, ultimately, are lived through our stories. So let's get

started in crafting a better and more inclusive one together.







The Workplace





The Future