Diversity's Main Players - Rio 2016

by Daisy Holmes

Often when prestigious, global events take place, the main protagonists (in this case a handful of the 11k athletes currently residing at Rio’s Olympic Village) decide to take centre stage for not only their sporting prowess, but for their own personal beliefs, cultural views and proud heritage.

Take women’s volleyball – renowned for being one of the more glamorous and aesthetically pleasing Olympic fixtures, spectators enjoy not only the fast paced ball work but the highly-anticipated scantily clad female athletes – an event which took our own 2012 games by storm, with c. half a million tickets sold for this sport alone.

Many publications were quick to highlight the ‘massive’ cultural divide between Western and Islamic women's teams, when Egypt played Germany earlier this week. The photo below went viral, with both negative and positive connotations; however the image of diversity was clear to see.

When it comes to your own trade, whether it be an Olympic-level sport, saving lives as an award-winning Doctor, teaching a classroom full of budding students or even serving commuters their daily cup of morning coffee – as long as you’re good at it, does the way you dress, or what you believe in, make a difference to you doing your job properly?

With a rise in Diversity focused roles within HR, this subject has been, and will continue to be, a workforce hot topic (it’s always a constant talking point at any networking event Network HR host or attend) – surely this image sums up the need to put a candidate’s skills into practice, regardless of their race or religious beliefs (or even age, gender, education…the list really is endless).

With a heavy focus nowadays on ‘box ticking’ to achieve Equality and Diversity during recruitment campaigns, maybe Egypt’s volleyball team can teach us all a lesson. If it takes the juxtaposition of a bikini and a hijab to teach us that both women can push the boundaries of their own physical ability and become Olympic-worthy athletes, regardless of their different cultures, beliefs and appearance, then I’m excited to see what other headline images appear during the final week of the Games.

Hopefully the diverse sporting talent currently taking over Rio can showcase the beauty of unity on a global scale, and that personal ability and achievements can be celebrated without prejudice.

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