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A powerful panel needs powerful experts. People who dare to challenge the status quo. But what does that mean for the composition of a panel? The most visible speakers are therefore not always the best. The same names often recur around the same themes. This way a lot of talent stays under the radar. And with them a different view, a refreshing angle, an opinion that really opens up the debate. That is why a plea for diversity is still desperately needed. Because talent is everywhere.
Diversity has many benefits. The most important one undoubtedly falls under the heading of 'collective intelligence'. Various studies show that the input of people from diverse backgrounds contributes significantly to the quality of a debate. Different experiences, perspectives and visions on the same subject allow for a broader conversation and that is precisely the intention of a panel: more ideas, more discussion. In short: an intelligent panel discussion.
Simple: diversity in all its facets. A mix of men and women ensures a mix of perspectives from different worlds. A mix of ages is important in a society that is changing rapidly, especially in terms of technological innovation. And a mix of cultural backgrounds also has an unmistakable added value in the approach to numerous subjects.
After all, expertise is so much more than the result of a linear gathering of knowledge. Expertise is also the sum of all obstacles encountered along the way, all mistakes made and all personal experiences. All of this affects the way you look at reality, and therefore also the way you think about solutions. The famous words of the French-American writer Anaïs Nin, We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are, illustrate this perfectly.
Another advantage is the existence of role models. Our view of the world, and therefore also of the future, is determined from an early age by heroes in books and films and later also by the people on screen or on stage. Throughout our lives we are influenced and inspired by leaders, experts and celebrities who shape our worldview. If we want to take an example from them, we must be able to recognize ourselves in them. And that is often difficult. That is why diversity is so important here: it allows us to realize our own ambitions.
The importance of this recognisability has already been demonstrated. For example, a recent study shows that only 9% of questions from the audience are asked by women, when the panel consists entirely of men. If the panel is mixed, this percentage rises to 25%. So if we want to involve as many people as possible in the debate, visible diversity is a crucial first step.
Finally, diversely composed panels better meet the wishes of the public: in a 2020 survey conducted by Profacts among 1000 Belgians, 90% preferred debates between people with different characteristics and backgrounds. Moreover, the respondents made a clear connection between diversity, ethics and innovation.
The Inclusive Panels initiative is a handy tool that can facilitate the search for the most suitable speakers through an extensive overview of databases.
In addition, there is also a Charter that companies and organizations, but also individual speakers, can sign to express their commitment to more diversity in panels.