Difference – why we can all learn something from children

Sarah Henchoz

In difficult times it is quite often children who can put a smile on our faces with the very matter-of-fact way in which they view the world around them. While we are all struggling to make sense of recent tragic events triggered in many ways by difference, it provides some comfort and hope to see the world through the eyes of children. Take the wonderful video clip recently produced by CBeebies in which children of different genders and races, those with disabilities and those without, were asked to explain their differences. The fact that none of them said “I am a boy, she is a girl”, “I am black, he is white” or “she is in a wheelchair, I am not” (and instead focussed on much more important things such as who was the best dancer) just shows that the labels we apply and the stereotypes (whether conscious or otherwise) that exist are of our own making.

Take also the male students at a school in Exeter who, when they were told they had to wear long trousers to school this week despite the hot weather, took matters into their own hands and wore skirts like their female classmates. Faced with the boys’ attempts to get gender equality in the school dress code (not to mention their bravery and creative thinking), the school has agreed to review the uniform policy.

Removing stereotypes and bias is such an important part of creating a level playing field and encouraging greater diversity in the workplace. So today I challenge you to try and describe how you and your colleagues are different without referring to gender, age, race etc. Embrace your differences and the positive impact those differences have on your business.

Comments published on Employment Talk do not necessarily reflect the views of Allen & Overy.

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