Editorial newsletter Belgian-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce (CCBP) March 2023

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Diversity. Diversity was the word that popped up last week during a meeting at HAEDES. We were around the table with sixteen colleagues. Some virtual, other physically, the hybrid way of working since the pandemic “taught” us this. Sixteen individuals, ten nationalities, i.e. Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Iran, Jordan, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium,… Sixteen individuals with their own cultural and personal background and dreams. Sixteen individuals however with a shared goal, to open their mind and their heart and blend their knowledge, cultural background and personalities together to question the status quo in the actual challenges we are confronted with as a person, as a company, as a society. Diversity as a powerful force to create, work together in synergy and to find a way to flourish with the ever changing dynamics around us. Different opinions are healthy, as it is the diverse variety of opinions within a community that provides resilience essential to assure long term sustainability.

For me it is obvious that diversity provides resilience, but not yet for many. It relates to accepting differences, listen to the disagreements, accept different opinions, but also to agree on how to go ahead and create mutual respect, rather than to find and work to consensus. Consensus results in people who are winning, people who are losing, people who only have part of what they thought would be in it for them. Consensus erodes collaboration on the long-term. Consensus is not Natural. Where else in Nature do you find consensus? Diversity indeed comes with tension and disagreement, but also with acceptance. That’s OK.

Tension and disagreement are the food for interactions to co-create richer outcomes. They are an opportunity to create conditions conducive to life. Diversity also comes with acceptance. Accepting the other is different. Acceptance as the foundations to create synergy. Diversity is abundant in Nature. Where there is diversity, Nature flourishes. Acceptance as well is abundant in Nature. A tree accepts its role in Nature and evolves to co-exist with all life around it. It does not fight against its existence nor wants to train itself to become a wetland (for example). Can we learn from Nature to work with the tension and diversity? Yes, by doing, erroring and adapting.

Diversity is also what we encounter in the Chamber of Commerce. A diversity of backgrounds, individual knowledge, age and experience. A diversity of interests, but a common goal and reasoning of belonging: making the chamber the primary contact point for any Portuguese or Belgium enterprise or investor wishing to relocate between or interact with the two countries. Together we provide our members with a solid network of opportunities and events, making sure they feel at home in the Belgian and Portuguese context. In the context of actual geopolitical changes, ever changing technological evolution and individual developments, the Chamber can be seen as a cross-sector hub, where diverse stakeholders come together, to form a circle of hands-on interaction where conversations and relationships combine the intelligence of head, hands and heart. Diversity also exists in combining the thinking, with the feeling and the doing. Blending these elements that are inherently abundant in each of us, will allow us to find the way to a paradigm shift where new ways of operating and innovating goes hand in hand with nourishing all life on earth.

With the Chamber of Commerce, we are doing small things, but with great love. It is all we have to do: “Cultivating and conserving diversity is no luxury in our times: it is a survival imperative.” — Vandana Shiva

For those willing to read, study or discover how Nature can inspire us, you can read the books of Giles Hutchins (“The illusion of separation – Exploring the Cause of our Current Crisis”), Charles Eisenstein (“Climate – a new Story”), Leen Gorissen (“Natural Intelligence”), Robin Wall Kimmerer (“Braiding sweatgrass”), Laura Storm (“Regenerative Leadership”) and many more. Or view the TED talk of Leen Gorissen: https://www.ted.com/talks/leen_gorissen_discovering_the_way_life_works.