Embracing a diverse workforce: Rebekah Pearson-Nelson | Undutchables

Embracing a diverse workforce: Rebekah Pearson-Nelson

Categorie: Cultural

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Rebekah Pearson-Nelson

Current Position: People & Culture Manager, New Innovation Management

Has lived in: USA & Sweden, having visited 25 countries before age 18

Has worked in: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Holland, Sweden, UK, USA

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What is Diversity in your opinion?

Diversity is like a really good soup with different colours, tastes, flavours and textures! Just as you can focus on the qualities of each ingredient separately, focusing on the ingredients altogether create for something really special and memorable. I can still enjoy a tomato or carrot soup but I feel bad for those that only enjoy tomato or carrot soup never having tried something with more nuance.

What is your personal experience on the subject of Diversity?

I was in the International Student Union in high school and college in the US where I grew up. But, as much as I tried to show understanding and openness to those that came to the US I had absolutely no idea how it felt like to be a foreigner until I moved to Sweden about 14.5 years ago. Just like anywhere there are people here who embrace diversity and those who despise it. The hardest part is to not take it personally when you, yourself, realise that you are being treated differently but nobody else notices it or does anything about it. Often, people opposing diversity do so because of an unconscious fear within them. Mostly from past experiences or stemming from the way they were raised to believe that different is bad. I always try to be open and understanding of someone that is willing to be vulnerable and talk about their fear. Matters in life are always easier when everyone puts their cards out on the table and say ‘this is who I am’. I also try to be as transparent and open as possible in hopes that it makes a difference in the end.

Why should Swedish companies embrace diversity and how can they see the added value of this?

Bottom line, money. It is lucrative to have a diverse company. HR and business research proves that. Organisations tend to be more creative and innovative when the workforce is diverse as an added benefit. It also helps to liberate natives from their ‘Jante imprisonment’. Globalisation is a reality and you don't have to believe me, just look at the top companies in the world and how diverse they are - It is not a coincidence. Keep up with the competition or get lost in their dust.

The hardest part is to not take it personally when you, yourself, realise that you are being treated differently but nobody else notices it or does anything about it.

Rebekah Pearson-Nelson
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