The key word is diversity

Building on our differences. Treating each other as equals, even though we’re not the same. Respect and inclusion. This—and much more—are what the Lean In Circles are proposing.

The sixth and last meeting of the latest edition of the Lean In Circles has just ended. Three groups of employees hailing from all corners of the continent came together to share their thoughts and ideas as part of another horizontal initiative designed by Tecpetrol—how to understand the diversity of today's world and act accordingly. This is central to the mission of our +d program, and also key for each one of us as individuals.

Diversity. A word that implies everything even though in itself it’s not enough—it’s up to each one of us to make the most of it. In fact, if we don’t deliberately work on relating to each other from the perspective of sharing points of view and experiences, diversity can even become a problem.

Tamara Blois is the IT Business Solutions Senior Manager at Tecpetrol in Buenos Aires: she shares what she took away from the Lean In Circles initiative. "It’s been a space for meeting, reflection and learning that has opened our minds through debate and thought, giving us the tools to move towards a more diverse and inclusive future."

Lean In Circlesan opportunity for Tecpetrol employees to rethink themselves.

The Lean In Circles are workspaces based on the premise that we are not all the same, and that respect for these differences is the cornerstone of our future relationships. It’s an invitation to build on the basis of this common understanding, managing unconscious biases (such as assumptions, beliefs and prejudice) and privileges (that we may not be aware of). The circular set-up, like King Arthur’s Round Table, enables everybody to occupy the same place without being equal.

Although every single one of us operates on the basis of unconscious biases, we shouldn’t use these as excuses to foster inequity. Privileges work in a similar fashion, and are similarly a reality at all levels of society: very often, as with unconscious biases, we aren’t aware of them either. We must be able to identify both, recognize them for what they are, and take steps to mitigate them, especially when we have responsibilities to others. Doing this is the first step towards encouraging the diversity of ideas and opinions to flourish in our teams organically.

Edgar Cobos, Sr. HSE Supervisor in Mexico, adds that, “I consider this to have been an extraordinary experience as it gave me a huge professional and personal learning opportunity, heightened by the great personal connection we created in our group. It’s become extremely clear to me that we are agents of change who are fully capable of promoting greater diversity and inclusion in our environment, and that all this points towards improving Tecpetrol as a whole.”

María José Vargas, who is an HRBP Analyst in Colombia, agrees, as, “I really enjoyed the opportunity to take part. I was encouraged to think beyond my daily concerns, to consider and learn about new concepts, to share my thoughts and to trust my colleagues so that we can build a better space together.”

There is no avoiding change, and creating a culture of inclusion means new ways of working and relating to each other. As with all change, there will undoubtedly be resistance, but the overriding mood is one of optimism. In fact, the results of the Lean In Circles could not be more inspiring, as summed up by Karina Jérez, a Production Technician in Neuquén, Argentina: “This is my second year taking part in this experience. It’s been incredibly enriching to be able to share so many diverse opinions and points of view. I’ve learned a lot, and I am stepping up to my commitment to assume and use my privileges to bring about change from where I am, and apply the tools I’ve acquired during these meetings.”

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