One article at a time
Caroline Berns, author of the weekly Diversity & Inclusion blog, about her experience writing 250 (and counting) editions.
You might have read none of them, you might have read some, or maybe you’ve read them all – whichever is true, last Friday marked my 250th Diversity & Inclusion newsletter! During the creation of this 250th newsletter, I began to reflect about the past five years and the journey it has been. As I thought about it, I suddenly wished I had taken a picture for every time I pressed the “publish” button (which has been every Friday morning). While some of them would have been admittedly quite boring (perhaps depicting the Ericsson office in Johannesburg or my workspace at home), some would have really brought me right back to the places I was at during those times, from hotel rooms, lobbies, and airports, to other Ericsson offices, at home with a new-born baby on my arm, or even in a Baltimore Starbucks after a massive storm wiped out the internet in our area while I persisted in sending one out – a very memorable event, I assure you. As you can imagine, this newsletter has become a substantial part of my life and my family’s (and my husband knows that Thursday nights are writing nights and on Friday mornings, I better have internet…).
So how did it all start?
I have always enjoyed reading about diversity, but it only became a “thing” when I was asked to join the D&I council for Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa in 2014. What started as a short email to my fellow council members (a “Did you see this article?”) quickly became a weekly newsletter and then on to a blog with thousands of readers every week. It has never been part of my job description though – and that is just one of the things I love about Ericsson. Innovation is in our blood, and we are encouraged to venture outside our areas, which not only benefits the company as a whole but also allows us to grow personally, helping our work to stay interesting.
And why do I do this?
It gives me hope
In order to share four articles/videos per newsletter, I must have already read/watched at least 6,000 of them so far. Luckily, there is enough happening in the world each week to find something worth sharing. While it’s not all good and positive, there are lots and lots of people and companies who do want to make a difference.
I have learned that I can make a difference
Researching and writing for my blog has helped me become more aware about being inclusive, and I’ve really come to see how it’s the little things that can make a huge difference. I believe we can all do something, even if it’s simply being an ally to someone in need. Whether it’s supporting a female colleague getting talked over during a meeting (“I know Stephanie has worked with this before. Stephanie, could you please tell us more about it?”) or providing an inclusive environment for disabled colleagues (“Can we please add subtitles here?”), to stopping any discriminatory “jokes” and making sure we have a diverse representation in pictures/panels, meaningful impacts can really be made in the small things we do. We don’t have to be on a special board for this or be a leader or a speaker at a conference. We can do this in our everyday lives, and these seemingly small things really add up.
“Steter Tropfen höhlt den Stein”
I always think of this German saying (essentially meaning that constant dripping can wear a stone away) because I really believe in normalizing. People often don’t realize how underrepresented certain groups are in media, and I get very excited when I can share powerful campaigns that are inclusive (the boy in the wheelchair, the gay couple kissing, a black lawyer, a female scientist, and so on).
I am thinking ahead
Since starting the newsletter, I have had two children. They are still small, but I would like to make the world just a little bit more inclusive for them. On top of this… well, it makes me happy. Maybe it’s a bit embarrassing, but people have seen me do a little dance in my chair when I read a great article or watch an inspiring video. I have a huge smile on my face when readers send me feedback, and I hope it makes other people happy, too. I know of colleagues who discuss the content at home (in fact, I have several colleagues who forward pieces straight to their children every single week!), and I have lots of colleagues who reach out to share their personal stories.
So, if you are not one of my readers yet – what are you waiting for?