Last week was a special week for us: on March 23 we proudly launched our brand-new “D&I SHARE & INSPIRE” event format – a series which will highlight a different D&I topic every quarter.
Our first session was all about Anti-Racism; the different facets of racism that we encounter in everyday life and in the context of work. On top of that, we covered why it is not enough to be simply non-racist. We welcomed #WeSpeakYouDonate speaker Lavanya Nanthapalan-Muehlke from Google Germany, who founded the Anti-Racism network #ActiveAntiRacism at Google, and shared her own very personal and emotional experiences facing racism growing up as a Woman of Color in Germany with Sri Lankan roots.
More than 100 OI colleagues from multiple locations, as well as some guest from other Otto Group companies joined our event and listened to Lavanya’s inspiring and emotional talk.
We all know that racism is not a new topic – that’s why it is so important to continue dealing with the construct and to finally sensitize oneself for the different expressions and create awareness alongside others. We take racism very seriously at Otto International: we are a very diverse company and treating each other with respect is one of our core company values.
Lavanya shared her own experience on how racism can show itself with words (like ”chocolate baby”), a bad school recommendation despite her excellent grades, questions why she actually wears a Germany jersey and ending with depreciating looks on the street. She showed us how racism is still extremely present in our society.
Through a small activity, we became aware of privilege – especially white privilege – in society and how we can be affected by racial discrimination – just based on our skin colour or origin. We did not only learn how we can be more aware of racist behavior and what we can do to prevent racial discrimination. Most importantly, we learned what we can do to fight racism: it’s not just being a non-racist – it’s being an active Anti-Racist. Lavanya mentioned how important it is to become and stay open-minded, how to be a “learner” and that we must not look away when we encounter racism.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
– Martin Luther King Jr.
If we all try to be a bit more active, we can make this world a more inclusive place, together.