Embracing the beauty  of our differences

Embracing the beauty of our differences

Insights from Maria VanDeman

The term “DEI” or Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is an acronym swirling around the corporate space. This term isn’t just another acronym, buzzword or passing trend. DEI is an outline for how to holistically and empathetically care for ourselves and others within our companies. DEI and You+ Belong go hand-in-hand to help us understand our humanity and create a sense of belonging that we all desire at work. To better understand the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we must first define these terms and reflect upon how they affect our own lives.


Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes and covers an array of differences and characteristics. From the way we were born and raised, to the beliefs and traditions we hold, we each have unique multi-faceted identities. We bring diverse perspectives to our workplaces, and those perspectives shape how we collaborate, learn, adapt and view the challenges and opportunities around us. 


Equity happens when we recognize that everyone comes from unique and diverse places, and adapt our actions and resources to give each person the access they need to thrive. In an equitable environment, each person’s individual needs are met so that they have the opportunity to work and achieve. 


Inclusion creates a safe space of acceptance for all people in the workplace, allowing them to participate fully, just as they are. The word inclusion is truly an action word as it is within our power to make those around us feel seen, safe, welcomed and respected. Inclusive people create inclusive work cultures, which become a safe haven for a diverse range of people. 

To take DEI a step further, the term “Belonging” can be added as “DEIB”. The goal of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work is to achieve the emotional state of belonging for all. Belonging is a basic human need and helps our emotional well-being. 

Companies where diverse groups of people can work alongside one another and feel belonging is a place of greater connection, motivation, innovation, and productivity. 

As we continue to learn more about the growing diversity of our world and our workplaces, it’s imperative that we embrace the beauty of our differences. These differences provide us with fresh perspectives and benefits that can be found nowhere else. As we strive for equity and inclusion in the workplace, we must each do our part to foster a culture of belonging and empathy. There is much to learn from the array of people around us if we are willing to create safe spaces to listen and discover. 

Maria VanDeman
District Sales Manager

Maria VanDeman is an NCIDQ certified interior designer, sales professional, and advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion. For over 13 years in the commercial design industry, including 5 years as a District Sales Manager with OFS, Maria has passionately created human-focused spaces. She is a speaker and advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the design industry and workplace. Maria leads the DEI committee for OFS, and serves on DEI committees for AIA and IIDA.