My visit to DC in 2018 combined two passions: 1) empowering people who want to increase diversity and inclusion, and 2) empowering kids in Ethiopia, my daughter’s birth-country. I spoke at a Women in Influence, Power and Law conference on the former which took me back to my suit-wearing, court-appearing days. My message to the attendees was rooted in my research and experimentation as I have struggled to make sense of the data that shows diversity and inclusion lead to better results on all levels and yet, many still remain underrepresented decades after efforts to increase began.
Then I met with a couple of DC-based OHBD volunteers at a local Ethiopian restaurant. We discussed how best to move forward our ambitious plans to increase literacy rates, improve access to technology for problem solving, and value art as a learning tool. I enjoyed the wonderful communal experience of eating some of my favorite Ethiopian foods family style, with no utensils – injera does the trick. The topics ranged from local engagement, to bridging the American diaspora and Ethiopian experience, and the amazing power of opportunity and freedom of expression combined with innovation.
I believe hard problems like diversity and inclusion and the inequity of opportunity for kids in different parts of the world, require the same fundamentals to address:
- Dogged optimism: The problems are solvable but need extreme experimentation. Don’t keep trying the same if the results are inadequate,
- Radical collaboration: Use the best of everyone who wants to be a part of the solutions, across generations, races, disciplines, and countries
- Inspiring storytelling: Elevate and amplify the voices and choices that are improving our world to create a power ripple of positive change.
We know that if we apply these fundamentals, we can make positive progress where everyone benefits.