Rocycle Diversity & inclusion Committee – Rocycle
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Rocycle Diversity & inclusion Committee

19-03-2021

At Rocycle, we are committed to diversity and inclusion. Our community, our dear Ro’fam is at the heart of everything we do, and we want to celebrate every single person we represent. Ever since we first opened, we’ve strived to welcome everyone with open arms, and as we move forward, we are even more dedicated to inclusivity. 

As we aim to become the most diverse company – representing all genders, races, ages, nationalities, religions and sexual orientations – we are building our Diversity & Inclusion Committee. And shining a light on all of the good deeds they do. 

We sat down with the team to find out a bit more about them and what the Committee has in store for Rocycle in the coming years.

Hey guys! We are so excited to have you on board and for our Ro’fam to get to know you. Can you introduce yourselves?

Alicia: Hello! I’m Alicia. I’m a British girl from London, and I’ve been living in Utrecht for just over three years! I’m now working as the Master Instructor and Talent Coach for Rocycle Utrecht.

Dennis: Hi, my name is Dennis, and I am an Instructor at Rocycle and part of the Diversity & Inclusion committee.

Christina: I’m Christina. I’m 22 years old and go by she/her pronouns. I grew up in Germany and relocated to Amsterdam a little more than three years ago. I’ve always been passionate about queer-related topics, so I will be pursuing a Masters in Gender Studies next year. I’ve seen all different sides of Rocycle, having worked as a Studio Assistant, an Intern and a Team Leader.  

Ellee: My name is Ellee. I’ve been living in Rotterdam 2019 and am working as the Area Manager for Rocycle Rotterdam.

Tiela: Hi beautiful people, I’m Tiela. I’ve been bringing fresh energy to Amsterdam from London since October 2017. I auditioned to be a part of the Rocycle instructors’ team the day after I landed, and I’ve never looked back.

Laurissa: My name is Laurissa, and I am from Boston, Massachusetts. I’m a studio assistant at Rocycle and have been with this lovely company for two years! Time goes by so fast. I moved to Amsterdam a little over two years ago and have no plans to move back to the U.S. because I have found my home here.

Amazing! It’s great to have such a mixed group on the Committee. Could somebody tell us a bit more about the Committee itself? We’re super curious.

Alicia: We established the committee in 2020 when we realised we wanted to ensure that Rocycle would always be a place that anyone could feel safe, respected and free to express themselves. We want everyone that works, rides or comes into contact with Rocycle to feel welcomed and valued, exactly as they are! This kind of thinking has always been a huge part of Rocycle’s values and mentality, and the development of our Committee ensures that diversity and inclusion continue to be a part of our inherent language and behaviours as we evolve. 

It’s so important to work toward that. If you just expect diversity to happen, it rarely will. What about diversity and inclusivity in your own lives? Were they always things you kept in mind or experienced?

Christina: In recent years, I realised how much privilege I had experienced. Spending my entire childhood in a small German town meant I didn’t grow up with a lot of diversity. I was never forced to challenge my views on diversity until I came out as a lesbian and suddenly became a minority. All of a sudden, I understood how society was heteronormative. I didn’t feel represented and couldn’t identify with most things I saw in the mainstream. This lack of representation made me passionate about driving diversity further. I hope sooner than later we can all feel represented. 

Dennis: I’ve never seen diversity as something important because I took it for granted. I always thought the world was very diverse and everyone was included until I started noticing that people treat you differently because they haven’t encountered someone like you before. It made me aware that the world isn’t as diverse as we think it is. 

Tiela: I grew up with an epic single mother, and I owe my open mindset and ability to be myself to her. My ability to be whoever or whatever I wanted continued into adulthood in London, where living independently broadened my small-town perspective. London is the land of diversity, and my world opened up after deepening my understanding of my own sexuality and meeting people from all walks of life. I’ve always played around with gender norms – from wearing the highest heels on a night out in London to doing literal drag. Though I was always fortunate enough to see a person for who they are regardless of skin colour, my new “wokeness” definitely arose as a result of the ‘Black Lives Matter’. I use my personal social media to share and source information on these issues and keep myself in the know. I remain hopeful that more we know, the better the world will become. 

Ellee: I grew up with parents who taught us empathy and celebrated diversity. They strongly rejected the idea of “us versus others”. Living in five cities, four countries and three continents taught me that there are more commonalities than differences. If you engage with people from different backgrounds, hear their stories and look into their eyes, it gets harder to see them differently and not accept them for who they are. 

Laurissa: Diversity has been vital in my life. I remember being involved in committees, clubs and activities from a young age that helped to spread the message of diversity. I went to an international school where over 48 countries were represented. I remember thinking that I wished everyone could be so encouraging about diversity. In high school, I was a part of a board committee with fellow teachers, several students, outside professionals and the heads of my school to understand how we could improve diversity and inclusion in our community. Now, I have a side project that I have been working on to shed light on mental health diversity in Amsterdam. I hope to have more to say about this in the upcoming year, but mental health affects more people than we can imagine, and it is vital to open up a conversation & safe space. We are all stronger together.

Alicia: I grew up in London, and I am so grateful and proud to have been raised in a city that is such a melting pot. Diversity and inclusion were just kind of my day-to-day rather than something we discussed openly. But that’s not to say everything was perfect because as I got older, I started to notice that I wasn’t seeing people who looked like me in the media or in the workplace all that often. I realised that I was often the only person of colour in the room. I experienced so many small situations where I was excluded growing up that I didn’t even realise it was unacceptable until much later. I even experienced a couple instances of overt racism and stereotyping too, which really came as a shock to the system. I have become more of a natural advocate for diversity and have been learning more and more about the ways in which discrimination and injustice show up and how best to combat them.

It’s crazy how often injustice and exclusivity crop up in society. Anyone who doesn’t fall into a majority group likely experiences prejudice or slights on a daily basis. Have you guys noticed any trends or changes when it comes to diversity and inclusivity over the last year or so?

Ellee: I think 2020 sparked a wave of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives throughout the world. People started becoming more proactive in speaking up, and leaders, in all sectors, have searched for the right thing to say or do as their employees emotionally process certain feelings. This is the beginning of a path on which many will learn and grow, as it takes courage to recognise what we don’t know and what is needed to fill the gaps. Through lived experience, I know how much diversity and inclusion can be impactful when done right, and I believe the past year taught us the importance of creating space for dialogue and healing. 

We love that. And we hope things only continue to go in that direction. Now before we let you guys go, we want to know: what do diversity and inclusivity mean to you?

Dennis: Respecting and acknowledging each other even though we are not the same.

Laurissa: Diversity and inclusivity are imperative to our growth as a society. Diversity brings with it the freedom to be who you are, no matter your background, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity. Diversity is making sure that everyone feels represented and that their ideas can be shared. Inclusivity is ensuring everyone feels welcome and comfortable. It’s about speaking up when someone says something you don’t believe fosters an inclusivity, and it’s about having those sometimes-difficult conversations to help educate others or yourself.

Alicia: For me, diversity means recognising, understanding and appreciating what makes us unique, and inclusion is making sure we all feel welcomed, supported and free to express ourselves, whoever we may be.

Christina: For me, diversity means exploring individual differences and broadening my own horizons by learning about others. That includes unlearning biases to dismiss stereotypes and attitudes that affect my interactions with others. Inclusion means that everyone deserves to be recognised, respected and loved for who they are and that everyone should be given the freedom to express themselves in whatever way they desire. 

Tiela: Diversity and inclusion are about being able to be your authentic self, no matter your personal journey. They’re about the freedom of self-expression.

Ellee: I believe Saadi, an eminent 13th century Persian poet says it best:

Human beings are members of a whole,

in creation of one essence and soul.

If one member is afflicted with pain, 

other members, uneasy, will remain.

If you have no sympathy for human pain,

the name of human you cannot retain.

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