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Is Diversity Inclusive Enough? Finding Answers Using the Circle of Trust

Is Diversity Inclusive Enough? Finding Answers Using the Circle of Trust

Reading time for this article: 6 minutes

Diverse workforces – sounds great! But what if our socialization makes it difficult for us to build a diverse and inclusive circle of friends and colleagues? Why doesn't a diversity mindset lead to an inclusive work environment on its own? These questions were raised during the session “Is Diversity Inclusive Enough?” at the BSH Diversity Week. We asked the session’s organizers for their insights.

At the end of June 2021, BSH organized the Diversity Week to develop and share new ideas around diversity, by BSH employees for BSH employees. The overall goal of the event was to create a better working environment for all people, regardless of their individual differences. Gamze Taygun and Paul Goldmann led one of the sessions. In an interactive workshop, they raised the question of whether diversity in itself is inclusive enough or if there is another step, in order to use the strengths of a diversified workforce at BSH – or for that matter any global corporation. Facilitated by the workshop mentors, the session participants engaged in a simple but eye-opening exercise – the Circle of Trust – to learn more about and from their own biases.

Diversity is a major and important topic that we are addressing!

Gamze and Paul were very impressed with the diversity mindset embraced by the participants: “It is inspiring to see how active the BSH community is in promoting diversity and related issues around the globe. There is a strong awareness that diversity is a common cause, a major and important topic that many of us find both fulfilling and beneficial for society, companies, teams, and individuals.” 

But what does the diversity mindset entail and how do the workshop mentors evaluate the situation regarding diversity at BSH? “Having diverse colleagues around us gives us a variety of perspectives, experiences, and cultural backgrounds that help us innovate our products, services, and processes. It also contributes to our own personal development by enriching our horizons and making us more aware of cultural similarities and differences. To us, it was no surprise that the colleagues in our session show a positive diversity mindset.” 

In a brief survey conducted at the beginning of the session, the participants of the session strongly agreed with the following statements:

  • “I believe diversity is enriching for me.”
  • “I believe that diversity is fair.”
  • “I believe diversity is an asset for BSH.”

While the survey is certainly susceptible to self-selection bias (i.e., only colleagues who demonstrate an interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion participate in the Diversity Week session), it nevertheless served Gamze and Paul to underscore an important notion: Everyone in the session group clearly valued diversity for a number of reasons! Therefore, it must be a matter of course that everyone also lives up to the idea of diversity in their professional and private lives – or is it?

Walk the talk: Self-reflection using the Circle of Trust

Knowing and appreciating the benefits of diversity, it seems plausible to assume that people with a high diversity mindset would gather diverse people in their close environment since they understand that diversity is a vital personal and professional resource. This close environment is what is known as the Circle of Trust. The further inward in this circle a person known to someone is to be placed, the closer is the relationship of trust with this person. To illustrate the circle concept: The people on the innermost circle are the ones that someone i.e. shares their deepest secrets with. People in the outer circle would be people who are part of someone’s life, but the relationship does not involve trust in the other person.

Using the concept of the Circle of Trust, the session participants were asked to complete a template on diversity characteristics (such as gender, age, level of education, nationality, skin color, ethnic background, sexual orientation, and disabilities) of people they know. Specifically, they had to indicate their five most trusted friends in a first-round and their five most trusted colleagues in a second round. After each round, the participants were asked to rate the diversity of their Circles of Trust anonymously.

A quick look at the results shows that pretty much every participant has a low level of diversity in their Circle of Trust in terms of friends, and on average moderate diversity in terms of colleagues. The results from this exercise seem to indicate a major difference from the results of the diversity mindset short survey at the start. These differences seem to be a widespread phenomenon. The question arises as to why this discrepancy exists. Answering it might be a key to personal and professional growth and more diverse friends’ and colleagues’ circles.


Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity is where you start – inclusion is how you live it

To sum up the session experience, there were many insights that the participants took away to use further in their lives.

First and foremost: BSH is a global company, which means it also has a high level of diversity through different diversity dimensions. It is a significant resource for the company that the colleagues have a strong diversity mindset. A strong diversity mindset is a great fundament to achieve corporate strategic goals because having different perspectives benefits BSH’s products, services, and processes – and ultimately colleagues and customers.

Trying out the concept of Circle of Trust showed though, that having diversity alone is not enough. We have to struggle with our biases every day to consciously transform diversity into inclusion: What matters is how everyone uses this resource by including the perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds of others in their close environment. Therefore, inclusion is key!

The biggest personal learning: Especially if you are strongly committed to a particular cause – such as diversity, equity, and inclusion – take time regularly to step back and reflect on your current state. This will empower you to live up to your values. You are not alone on your journey! Expand your Circle of Trust to include new, diverse friends and colleagues who want to support you.

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People at BSH
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BSH all over the world.

BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, with a total turnover of some EUR 15.6 billion and 62,000 employees in 2022, is a global leader in the home appliance industry. The company’s brand portfolio includes eleven well-known appliance brands like Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff as well as the ecosystem brand Home Connect and service brands like Kitchen Stories. BSH produces at 40 factories and is represented in some 50 countries. BSH is a Bosch Group company.