A grassroot initiative that started as a women’s movement, realised that to open up to the diversity of different thoughts male as well as female perspectives were needed. In the second of a series on thought diversity as part of the Change Challenge, Celine Schillinger tells her story



Diversity of thoughts can be quite uncomfortable for some people. It challenges beliefs and values. It breaks similarity of thoughts. And it also creates disagreements and hard feelings.

‘Fighting for thought diversity and inclusion remains as important as ever’

Some people hate it so much, they’re ready to kill other human beings. In the heart of Paris in January, 19 persons died from the bullets of a few hateful young men in those terror attacks. 

This incident has painfully reminded how crucial thought diversity is for society at large.

However obvious it may sound, our commonalities as human beings with a conscience are so much more important than what divides us.

This is why fighting for thought diversity and inclusion remains as important as ever. It doesn’t take a hero to do that.

And this applies to organisations and networks, too.

A lack of diversity

In 2010, a few friends and I launched a movement for gender balance in our workplace. We felt the lack of diversity in the upper management was a liability for the company. Decisions are more wholesome and sensible after they have been exposed to a diversity of perspectives.

Teams connect better with a diverse environment when they’re diverse themselves.

Our grassroots initiative started as a women’s movement called WiSP: WoMen in Sanofi Pasteur.

We understood the need to be as inclusive as possible as there was little chance of success if we remained a female only movement.

‘Thought diversity is a crucial principle to embed into our values and organisational cultures’

Moreover, as diversity champions, we had to practise what we preached. But the critical question was how to go about it? How do you open the movement to men, when your name has “women” in it?

We started by opening up to the diversity of thoughts.

In an employee meeting, we shared our struggle with the audience. One person came up with up an innovative solution.

She said: “Why not add a capital ‘M’ to your name? Call it WoMen instead of Women.”

We hadn’t thought about that – and it unlocked everything. Men were interested in what we did and, from then on, we were able to align our narrative with our purpose, and grow.

To thrive in our relationships and succeed in our goals, thought diversity is a crucial principle to embed into our values and organisational cultures. It’s our lifeline, as organisations and as individuals.

Celine Schillinger is head of quality innovation and engagement at Sanofi Pasteur @CelineSchill