Is diversity just a buzzword?

We all bring rich dimensions of diversity to an organisation where we work or study at, such as our backgrounds, life experiences, our individual, religious and cultural differences, the languages we speak as mother tongue, our visual identity and other aspects. It seems that in recent years diversity became a popular concept, gaining importance in the workplace, and the reason for it is that the population itself became more varied. Attitudes are changing and institutions including Universities are now caring more about their student and staff population and are trying to increase customer and employee satisfaction to contribute to a more attractive, balanced and improved place for study and work, where values such as inclusivity, equity and equality do matter.

The way I see it, diversity it is not just a buzzword, it has an aim attached to it. It is about recognising all the different components that characterise us and harnessing the power of them through accessibility and inclusivity, promoting equality of opportunity by embedding the differences into daily practices.

Embedding Diversity and Inclusion into the way we work. Henley Business School event.

Being a member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee at Henley and Athena Swan Self-Assessment team, I am interested in the institutional commitment to Diversity and Inclusion agenda at Henley and how the institution strives to be a more inclusive place.

Now, Henley Business School is hosting an event: Embedding Diversity and Inclusion into the way we work, on 31st January. The event will comprise a range of talks from a variety of speakers from inside and outside the University, who are representatives of the groups working towards promoting equality at the University and beyond.

Photographic Gallery of Diversity

As part of the event, the Henley Business School foyer will transform into a temporary photographic gallery of diversity. My photography project was aimed at creating a visual snapshot of diversity. It took a couple of months to complete, over summer 2018. My inspiration for its creation came from a well acclaimed America born photographer, now based in London, called Peter Zalewski. His goal was to celebrate London’s diversity through portraiture and he approached strangers in the street to take their portraits, risking their disagreement. My geographical location was narrower than London, as I aimed to study an institution where one can find a multitude of diversity under one roof.

Like Zalewski, I wanted to create vibrant visual imagery showcasing diversity, but with an emphasis on a workplace. My subjects were not strangers; instead, they were members of our community of staff and students at Henley. I wanted my portraiture to be created in a relaxed atmosphere and in a style of spontaneity. My approach was to engage in talks with my subjects, to make them feel more relaxed, to find out more about them, bond with them, and be directed by them. In return, I was hoping to capture their personality, attitudes, identity, interests, hobbies and their distinctive features. Finding whether they smiled or not, or if preferred to look into the camera or away from it, was a rewarding experience. This is the community I wanted to explore, by bringing the individual characteristics to light with the use of my lens.

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