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What does Diversity & Inclusion mean to you?

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Tags: TraineeProjects, TraineeCommunity, Careers
In the 15-month ZF Global Trainee Program, participants will become acquainted with work at ZF, rise to the challenges of a daily work routine, apply the knowledge gained during studies to successfully complete international projects and start a promising career at a highly-innovative automotive company.
Miranda Whah, May 20, 2019
Miranda Whah is from Indiana. She studied mechanical engineering with a concentration in studio art at Michigan State University. Visiting countries, meeting people & discovering new cultures is her favorite way to gain perspective.
To attend a Diversity and Inclusion Talk sponsored by the Michigan Women's Resource Group and hosted by ZFs Global Electronic Headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan is a unique experience. This Speaker Series event was lead by two diversity and inclusion experts, Jill Havely and Rebecca Duff-Campbell, from Willis Towers Watson this March.

What I really liked about the event was the approach style Jill and Rebecca used. The purpose of this event was to gain insight about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and the leaders provided guided conversation for the attendees to discuss. The areas of discussion were mostly dominated by the following questions:
What does diversity mean to you?, What does inclusion mean to you?, and What is your role in building an inclusive culture?
The first topic we started with was, what does diversity mean to you? One of the attendees and organizers from ZF, Brittani Blackwell, gave the answer, "Diversity is a different way of thinking. It has evolved. The definition is fluid, and it needs to be accepted that it isn't a black and white definition, but a colorful one". The takeaway from the experts was that Brittani's answer was exactly right. The definition of diversity is no longer only in a traditional sense. It may be easier to bucket people into categories, but it's about experience, perspective and background. These factors all influence how we think, interact and work. Embracing different ways of thinking is what drives innovation and enhances business.
We moved over to the topic, what does inclusion mean to you? People are not always aware that diversity and inclusion are two different things. Jill and Rebecca shared with us a quote that really puts things into perspective:
"Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance."
— Vernã Myers

The experts went on to explain that people need to feel both physically and psychologically safe in the workplace; they need to feel okay to speak their minds. You should be able to bring your full self to work, regardless of your status or background. A question asked by an attendee was, "We can be diverse in this room but how do we make it inclusive? How do we drive this from a grassroots level?" The experts answered that it is important to hold yourself and others accountable. It is also important to inform your manager how you feel about diversity and inclusion, and that this is a critical topic for you.
Another great question asked by an attendee was, "Why should our organization care (about diversity and inclusion)?" Lucky for us, Jill and Rebecca had already prepared some worthy statistics proving why diversity is important for our company to recognize to further benefit our goals and business strategies. I have shared them below!

What I liked most about the Speaker Series was the opportunity to hear what others in ZF think about diversity and inclusion. The floor was open to a variety of topics, opinions, and outlooks that I had not thought about before. While what was discussed above were all very good highlights of the event, there were many more topics covered. I strongly suggest taking it upon yourself to learn more about what diversity and inclusion means to you and your role in the company! I know I enjoyed the Speaker Series. How many of you would be interested in attending one in the future?
If you are interested in learning more about diversity please stay tuned this Spring for the up-and-coming ZF International Diversity Day on May 28 of this year.

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