Inclusivity and Diversity: What’s the Difference?

“I really hate the word ‘diversity.’ It suggests something…other. As if it is something special, or rare. Diversity! As if there is something unusual about telling stories involving women and people of color and LGBTQ characters on TV. I have a different word: normalizing. I’m normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world looks.” – Shonda Rhimes


There’s a lot of buzz around words like “diversity” and “inclusivity” in everything from media to business… but what do these words even mean?


They’re often used interchangeably, but really the two words are very much distinct from one another.


Diversity is simply variety. It is abstract, random, malleable, and, border-line SFSN (sounds fabulous, signifies nothing!)


What we should be striving for is inclusivity.


Shifting the conversation from diversity to inclusivity changes a person’s experience from:  


“I’m here because of my race/gender/sexuality/disability. I’m here because I’m different.”




“I’m here because what I have to say is important, and I’m working with others to overcome the systemic barriers that keep my story from being told.”


Inclusivity incorporates the wholeness of individuals. People are more than their labels, more than their upbringing, more than their social status, more than their job.


Inclusive media is important so people can see themselves represented in culture. It makes them feel connected, rather than abnormal or “other.”


Being inclusive is beneficial for businesses, organizations, and other institutions, too. If you want to make something better, you need to bring in different types of people and their ideas.


Working toward consistently being more “inclusive” you are able to take in every part of the multifaceted individuals who make up your team.
Working toward being more “diverse,” not only do you miss out on every special component that make up the whole persons you work with, but you miss the point.


Are You Paralyzed By Your Passion Project?

Have you ever had an idea that was so good, so delicious and spot on that you literally feel your body quake with possibility? You are CERTAIN this is going to work. It could be a creative concept, a new business plan or (finally!) that novel you want to write.


Your passion soars and then BOOM. You stop. The voices creep in. You are paralyzed by how much you love this idea. Fear creeps in. What if this can’t happen. Won’t happen. You summon up every reason why good ideas like this don’t manifest in your life. You begin proving to yourself how crazy you are for even thinking you could be so smart, special, (fill in the blank), _________.


You are not alone. We can get paralyzed by our passion to change the world. Our vision to create a new endeavor. Our hunger to make something new.


Here are a few gems of advice I’ve received that have helped me avoid passion paralysis. (Next up – taking action!)


  1. “Don’t Forget to Write It Down”: When I was a kid, my grandpa Michael used to say this to me all the time whenever I tried telling him some story I was making up. It ticked me off because I didn’t want to do “homework” – I just wanted to tell stories. But he was right. Taking pen to paper helps you protect and preserve those gorgeous ideas and holds them for you until you are ready to share them again. Writing down these brilliant brainstorms can also help you keep thought organized and accountable. Excuse me, while I go jot a few things down….


  1. “The Steam That Makes the Whistle Blow, Never Makes the Engine Go” – A great healer I worked with whispered this to me in the middle of a brag-a-thon.. I was so busy telling everyone my ideas about what I wanted to do – she warned me that I was giving away precious energy just talking about it when what ideas really want is someone to cultivate them, nurture them and grow their potential. This has never left me. Also – one of my favorite scribes Elizabeth Gilbert writes a lot about this in her book “Big Magic”. A must read.


  1. “Rejection is God’s Protection”. Honestly, I can’t remember who said this to me first but I tell myself this mantra about once a day. You have to trust in divine timing, too. Sometimes when a door closes it truly is to get you to move in a different direction. Work hard, take action, but surrender to the timing. That’s the hardest piece of advice and one I still work on day to day.



3 Tips For Working With Difficult People

With every interaction we have at work – whether it’s with coworkers or bosses or clients – we’re bound to face people who are more (ahem) challenging to get along with. And trust me, I’ve worked with plenty of people in my career who I didn’t always vibe with.


But even though we don’t always enjoy the people we work with, I do think there’s something to be learned from every relationship.


Here are three ways to help you work and even (gasp) collaborate with some of your not-so-favorite people:


  1. Set Boundaries!


Every relationship needs guard rails and the trickier relationships definitely need to have specific and clear expectations. Don’t want to be emailed relentlessly at 2 am – let them know that the first time they do it. Feel triggered every time you get off a conference call with someone– make sure you schedule 10 min in between meetings so you can decompress and not carry it into the next interaction. Boundaries go both ways – make sure you set them for yourself and others.



  1. Don’t answer every email:


How amazing do you feel just reading that this is an option?!? Yes. You don’t have to answer every email from a person who you don’t enjoy. Don’t go radio silent but you also don’t have to jump every time they e mail you. Take a moment. Compose your thoughts. Walk away. Take the night. Unless it’s life or death, it truly can wait. This doesn’t just go for people who annoy you – but a good e mail lesson in general. Answer them when you are in a better mood. It’ll make a world of difference.


  1. Pick your battles:


Not everything is worth fighting for. Don’t waste your energy on the things that truly don’t matter. There will always be sucky people in the world. Don’t let them live rent free in your head for so long. Even if they hold positions of power – you hold the ultimate power – the gateway to your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.


Stop to think about what you can do to better the relationship on your end. And if you get to the point where you need to have a conversation with this person, be open to listening to their criticism as well. Listening and learning from our communication with others will ultimately help us grow.


Bentonville Film Festival Photo Recap

For the past six months, I’ve been partnering with the Bentonville Film Festival to help bring their mission of championing women and diverse voices in media to fruition. If you haven’t heard of this festival yet – stop. Click the link. Then forward to all of your creative friends who have films they want to finish, share, and find distribution on!


We know the media is powerful, because it shapes how we see and experience the world around us. We talk a lot about accurately reflecting women and diverse voices in the media- but did you know that only 31% of speaking characters in top-grossing films are female and only 13% of leading characters in films are people of color. Behind the camera, minorities represent only 12% of directors and 7.6% of writers.


BFF is becoming part of the solution – co-founded by Trevor Drinkwater and Geena Davis and her institute – this is the only festival that guarantees distribution opportunities to winning films, so they are taking tangible steps to turn inclusivity into a reality.



On the first night of the festival, blogger extraordinaire Luvvie Ajayi of Awesomely Luvvie and I attended the opening film Equity. I don’t want to spoil the plot – the film comes out this summer but it was awesome to watch a film about Wall Street feature two female leads. What I loved most is that the movie showed women who love to make money. They weren’t the most likeable characters but that’s what I appreciated – if we want to change the ratio of women in media we have to get used to seeing women in roles that aren’t just saints or housewives. We have to see complicated women who reflect real life.


Just like Soledad O’Brien said in our most recent episode of “Talk to Jess: Conversations with Today’s Thinkers, Movers, and Shapers”, media representation is more than just bringing in different types of people — it’s about expanding the conversation and presenting new perspectives.


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After the movie ended, NPR’s Alex Cohen moderated a live Q+A with Director Meera Menon and Producer/Actor Sarah Megan Thomas.


BTS Fun Fact: Part-way through the project, the filmmakers decided to make some of the leading male characters female. They didn’t need to alter any of the lines while switching characters’ genders. That’s how easy it is to establish parity in media – being conscious is the first step!



The next morning, I moderated the “Progress vs. Perfection” panel with experts ranging from the queen Geena Davis herself to Mattel, Walmart, and Kraft. I was thrilled to host this panel because I know first-hand what it takes to drive change on complex topics like inclusivity.


FullSizeRender-2Our panelists pictured from left to right: Geena Davis, Kathleen McLaughlin, Stephen Quinn, Dean General, and Barbie’s Lisa McKnight


We are witnessing culture shift quickly as businesses are bringing together economic goals with social initiatives – and proving that it’s possible for corporations and brands to do well by doing good. But in order to create tangible change, we need to unpack how that change can happen and these brands shared how they were spearheading initiatives in both product and personnel that address more inclusivity.



The amazing Luvvie did a wonderful job as BFF’s resident social media queen and award show host! Check out her social world and don’t miss her interview with festival co-founder Geena Davis.


The Bentonville Film Festival is a truly unique festival. By guaranteeing distribution for its winners, it’s ensuring that diverse voices and stories are delivered straight into consumers’ homes.


You can help support BFF’s mission by spreading the word about the festival, encouraging filmmakers to submit their work, and following their social channels @BFFfestival for more info!


Mom 2.0 Photo Recap


One of my favorite things about being Dove’s Global Self-Esteem Ambassador is the opportunity to reach different audiences with messages about confidence and the beauty of being you. Last week, I was at the Mom 2.0 Summit, which connects parent bloggers, content creators, and marketers around conversations that help shape how we see and think about today’s families.


The summit kicked off with an amazing conversation about the power of our words online with none other than the award-winning journalist (and my eternal #WCW) Soledad O’Brien.




Soledad is such a genuine, open, and captivating person. We went from strangers (although I have to admit, I had a HUGE professional crush on her!) to chatting like old friends, taking selfies, and having her adjust the microphone on my bra strap!


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During the keynote address, Soledad and I discussed the power of words, parents’ roles in how their children create and consume social media, and Dove’s recently launched #SpeakBeautiful Effect on Twitter that helps you identify the power of our online words and their impact.


With the rise of social media, everyone has the power and platform to share their stories and use their voices. It’s so important that we are intentional about the messages we send out and use those platforms to lift others up, rather than tearing one another down.




Don’t think I won’t frame this!




As if things couldn’t get any better – on day two – I hosted our famous Dove Self-Esteem workshops with the fabulous Hollis Heath, a fellow Dove Self-Esteem Educator who also works in New York City to help young people find their strength through education and creative arts.




Our workshops also focused on the power of our words and how to rewrite our beauty story. We were joined by the amazing women from Mom 2.0, who not only participated in their own workshop, but then came back to mentor girls in another workshop.


I’m always moved by how open, brave, and willing participants are, and these women and girls were no exception. Seeing groups of passionate people engage with their journeys of self-discovery, regardless of where they may be on their paths, inspires me time and time again.


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We were joined by the Girl Scouts of Orange County who were so incredibly outspoken and creative in their answers about beauty and body image. Clearly these were girls who have been thinking about and talking about how to develop their confidence. Their answers would blow you away!




We had everyone write their beauty story using just one sentence. And the catch? That sentence had to have just 6 words. Think of it as a mini-mini tweet. The girls were supposed to sum up the story they’d like to tell the world about their relationship and understanding to their own beauty and confidence. Here are just a few:


L: “Finding out that everyone is different.”

R: “Finding and expressing my inner creativity.”


I mean… 🙂


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Did a workshop really happen if we don’t take a picture??

Trick to getting a good smile – have everyone yell “1, 2, 3… Self-Esteem!!!”


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Mom 2.0 was an uplifting experience reminding me that, as long as we open ourselves up to seeing it, exploring it, and embracing it for what it is, #BeautyIs found in everyone around us.


If you want to learn more about the power of YOUR words and what you can do to leave a more positive digital footprint, check out Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful Effect on Twitter. It’s as easy as clicking “retweet” (literally).