D.E.I. and Mental Images. The rules of the game

by | Mar 23, 2023 | 0 comments

D.E.I. and Mental Images. The rules of the game.

Huib Wursten, author and consultant


Frequently, the discussions around D.E.I. are about recognizing the rights of previously excluded groups, mainly based on skin color, gender, or/and sexual preference.The emphasis is then on their representation in the democratic process, the fight against biases and stereotyping and the reparation of past wrongdoings. A new development is adding a B to the abbreviation. It stands for the focus on (a sense of) Belonging. “Even a workplace that has every intention of being D.E.I. sometimes fails to retain employees from underrepresented groups because they don’t feel like they belong”.

A question that is mostly avoided in this approach to diversity is: how different these groups are in their values and ways of thinking.

This is increasingly important because of urgent global challenges like the energy crisis, climate change, immigration and poverty. Developing solutions requires a real understanding of the differences and how to “bridge “them.

This paper will show how country culture is a gravitational influence in shaping values and ways of thinking. People working together in the same (country) culture share in principle the basic values of that culture. This will be explained in the context of country profiles. Value diversity is, as a result, mostly limited. The differences are on the level of practices and the more superficial layers of culture. In International teams, this is much more complex. Even stronger so in cooperating internationally. It will be shown that seven culture profiles (called “Mental Images”) can be distinguished with seven different “rules of the game” for policy-making and management. These different rules of the game also apply to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. Solving urgent global challenges cannot be done in isolation. “We are in this together”. But to act together, we must understand the differences and bridge them. The seven rules of the game and the consequences for D.E.I.B. will be illustrated with examples. Because of the constraints posed by the length of a Journal paper, one country is chosen for each culture profile.


Diversity, Country Culture, Mental Images, Rules of the game, D.E.I.


A frequent remark in my practice as a consultant is: why are you emphasizing differences so much? Isn’t it much more productive and positive to stress the commonalities between people from different cultures?                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I must confess that I sympathize with the people making these remarks. I sympathize because many discussions around D.E.I. are about recognizing the rights of previously excluded groups, mainly based on skin color, gender, or/and sexual preference. The emphasis is then on their representation in the democratic process, the fight against biases and stereotyping and the reparation of past wrongdoings. Inclusion is important because creating an environment that accepts and celebrates differences allows individuals to feel valued, respected, and accepted for who they are, rather than being excluded or discriminated against.

One of the main H.R. trends is the development from D.E.I. to D.E.I.B. The B stands for (a sense of) Belonging.                                                                                                    Neelie Verlinden (2023) formulated why the B was added: “The field of diversity and inclusion has never evolved more rapidly than in the past two years. We have learned that the more traditional ‘diversity and inclusion’ (or D&I) is not enough in a society that is inherently biased. This has helped the field move towards ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion.’ But being diverse, equitable, and inclusive is not enough to create a work environment that helps people get the best out of themselves. It will, therefore, not be fit for the new era of work. Even a workplace that has every intention of being D.E.I. sometimes fails to retain employees from underrepresented groups because they don’t feel like they belong. Belonging at work adds to the D.E.I. equation. If we put our philosophical hat on for a second, we could say that, on the one hand, it is about “longing to be”. On the other hand, it is about “being for long”, representing an affective and a temporal dimension. Belonging in the workplace brings a shift towards psychological safety and real inclusion.

Global challenges and the need to understand differences. “We are in it together.”

A question that is avoided mostly in the D.E.I.B. approach is how to define the differences between groups in their values and ways of thinking.

Two reasons:

The first one is that people involved are unaware of the bias created by the “subconscious programming of the mind” called culture. Because they work mainly with people of their own environment, they are not aware that, on a deep level, the preferences and priorities they take for granted are special for their own national culture. What they see and are comfortable about are experienced as “normal”. This influences the D.E.I.B. discussions in the country where it originated, the U.S.A. As a result, a tendency can be observed to think that North American ideas are Universal. Cultural research shows: it is not.

The second reason is that local recognition and representation of underrepresented groups is, however, important not enough. There is more at stake. It is: how to cope with global challenges like energy, climate, poverty and immigration. More and more people realize that we are in this together. Even globally. At the same time, awareness is growing that there is no “we”. We must “bridge” the value differences dividing us to act together globally. To build these bridges, we must first understand where the shorelines are!

The awareness of value differences.

The awareness of differences developed gradually in the last decades.

For a long time, the basic assumption seemed to be that human psychology is the same worldwide. As a result, social scientists based their arguments and findings on ‘evidence-based approaches’ without considering the culture and gender of people. However, the insight is growing that this assumption is wrong!

Evan Watters concluded in ‘We aren’t the World’ that: “Economists and psychologists, for their part, did an end run around the issue with the convenient assumption that their job was to study the human mind stripped of culture. Instead, it was agreed that the human brain is genetically comparable around the globe, so human hardwiring for much behavior, perception, and cognition should be similarly universal—no need, in that case, to look beyond the origin of test subjects.

This had some dramatic consequences. A 2008 survey of the top six psychology journals showed that more than 96 percent of the subjects tested in psychological studies from 2003 to 2007 were Westerners — with nearly 70 percent from the United States alone. Put another way: 96 percent of human subjects in these studies came from countries that represent only 12 percent of the world’s population” (*2)

Conclusion: Most leading social research is done by Western scientists among Western people. Mostly males.

This neglect of culture is creating a bias. For example, one of the conclusions of the 2015 World Bank Group annual report was that:

People think with mental models. To deal with the vast amount and complexity of information in their environment, humans create and use categories, schemas and ‘taken-for-granted’ worldviews to understand and cope with all kinds of situations. The social environment and institutions enhance and shape people’s thinking and the alternatives they can imagine. Over time and history, these mental models become ‘internalized.’ These patterns of thinking with their corresponding assumptions about the world and fellow humans seem to be ‘natural’ and inevitable even though other possibilities or perceptions, and interpretations might exist and be available. These ‘mental models’ seem to be vastly shaped and influenced by the cultures of humans.

This paper will:

  • Show how national culture shapes values and thinking in different ways.
  • Show that seven culture profiles (Mental Images) can be distinguished that influence ideas around D.E.I.B.
  • Propose in keywords how to find “solutions” for dilemmas using the rules of the game per Mental Image.


 National Culture as a source of priorities and preferences.

In international organizations, the importance of understanding cultural differences in thinking, leadership, decision-making, and communicational styles has been recognized for quite a while, instigated and influenced by thinkers and researchers such as Geert Hofstede. (See also note #3).

Since then, the insight that cultural factors are important for understanding the world has increased. Even stronger, people are getting aware that culture has a “gravitational influence ” on behavior in general, including ideas about diversity. In an interview with the “Economist”, Hofstede pointed out that the discussions about diversity tend to ignore the consequences of national culture and to be too superficial and positive about the sustainability of the diversity consensus. He said that culture: is more often a source of conflict than synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster.”

This, of course, needs further clarification.

The Hofstede dimensions of Culture (Hofstede2001, Hofstede et al. 2010) represent a well-validated operationalization of differences between the cultures of present-day nation-states as manifested in dominant value systems. See for a short introduction: https://culture-impact.net/globalization-culture-and-the-hofstede-dimensions/

By a set of 4 value dimensions, it is possible to describe how culture, in a decisive way, creates diversity. Word of caution: please remember we are talking about central tendencies. Not about individuals.

 The four confirmed value dimensions:

  1. Small Power distance versus Large Power distance

Power distance is the extent to which less powerful members of a society accept that power is distributed unequally. People in countries scoring low, like the US, Canada, the U.K., Scandinavia, and the Netherlands, see hierarchy as something formulated for the convenience of managing an organization. These people will likely accept ideas like autonomy, empowerment, decentralization, participative decision-making, and flat organizations. Business schools worldwide tend to base their teachings on low power-distance values.

Yet, most countries in the world have a large power distance. In Large power-distance cultures, people accept hierarchy as an existential fact of life and will accept centralized decision-making.

  1. Individualism versus Collectivism

Individual rights and obligations are the centers of value preferences in Individualistic cultures. People believe in Universalistic values. The rights and obligations are (or should be) valid everywhere. The rule of law guarantees human rights.

In collectivist cultures, people belong to in-groups who look after them in exchange for loyalty. Therefore, the value orientation is particularistic and applicable to people of the in-group.

Collectivism is a value system that emphasizes the importance of group identity and the collective good over the rights and interests of individual members. In collectivist societies, the needs and goals of the group are prioritized over the needs and goals of the individual. The group is expected to work together for the common good of the in-group. In Individualistic cultures, people identify more as members of voluntary social groups than members of clans.”For collectivistic societies, it is difficult to accept that individuals have the right to decide about moral issues. Religious institutions and their officials represent the traditional values, and they are the only ones in the position to “weigh” new developments like freedom of sexual preference and equal rights for women.

  1. Masculinity versus Femininity

In masculine cultures, competition, achievement, and success are dominant values. The dominant values in feminine cultures are consensus-seeking, caring for others and quality of life. In masculine cultures, sympathy is for the achiever. Status symbols are important to show success. Feminine cultures have a people orientation. Sympathy is for the underdog, “small is beautiful,” and status is less important.

  1. Weak versus Strong Uncertainty avoidance

Uncertainty Avoidance is the extent to which people feel threatened by uncertainty and ambiguity and try to avoid these. In cultures of strong uncertainty avoidance, there is a need for rules, procedures, and formality to structure life. Decisions are taken after considering all available information. As a result, there is a tendency for deductive reasoning and a strong belief in experts. In weak uncertainty-avoidance cultures, people are motivated by making quick decisions based on limited information. As a result, they tend to prefer inductive reasoning, and there is a belief in “best practices” as formulated by practitioners. Experts are frequently seen as “Academic.”, which is not meant as a compliment.


Culture Profiles: Mental Images  

The four culture scores of different countries on the distinctive dimensions already offer a better understanding of dealing with diversity. But it is not giving the full picture because it does not take into account that while each dimension is independent (each explains something distinct about a country), the most important real-life issues can only be clarified by analyzing how the dimensions interact.

The key issue is that: the sum of the four dimensions is more than the sum of the parts. It creates something new. The combinations lead to seven different “pictures” in the mind of people of what society and organizations look like.   Hence the name of this picture “Mental Image”.

Japan is standing alone. No other nations share the Japanese combination. They have their own “Mental Image,”.

 Two important features of Mental Images:

  • They reduce complexity.

There are over 200 countries in the world. Happily, we do not have to understand 200 distinct cultural types. The Mental Images reduce the complexity by defining “Culture-clusters “. Countries in such a cluster are not identical but share the same values. They are similar. The Mental Images are systematically compared on 24 organizational issues.

  •  They all have different “rules of the game” for dealing with societal and political issues.                                                                                                                                  These rules of the game are fundamental for understanding the shape of decision-making and the development of new policies.


Mental Images. Majority culture and minorities

The Mental Images represent the majority culture of a nation-state. A standard critical remark from people from such a nation-state is that it is too general. They see clear regional differences. This is true for people in a large country like the U.S.A., convinced that the culture of the Westcoast is different from the culture of the Eastcoast. It is even true for people of small countries like the Netherlands, who are sure that the citizens from Rotterdam are different from Amsterdam. Fifty kilometers apart. The reaction of foreigners is mostly: You live here. So you know best. But what I see is the commonalities. I see “American” or “Dutch” behavior. A valid comparison to explain this is language behavior. It is about the difference between the basic grammar of a language and differences in style and dialect. The culture scores and Mental Image define the basic grammar of a country’s culture. But certainly, people can be different in style and dialect.

Another influence of real life is that even if minorities have other value preferences, they tend to adapt to the majority’s standards. The practical reason is that the majority sets the criteria for what is seen as successful and effective. To succeed, members of a minority learn to adapt to the majority standards. The limited research done systematically comparing majority culture and minorities shows that minorities are often, in reality, not so much different.

For example, the U.S.A. :

Below are two graphics from the research done by Marieke de Mooij & Jake Beniflah (2016): They used the Hofstede dimensions as starting point to see if the assumptions about minorities and generations in the U.S.A. are correct.

As a reminder, the confirmed scores for the whole of the U.S.A.:

PDI:  40, IDV: 91 Mas:  62, UAI:  46

Below are the scores of minority groups:






The tentative conclusion is that small differences are certainly detected but that most minority groups score on the same sides of the Hofstede scale as the majority culture. This conclusion also applies to generational differences. Marieke de Mooij & Jake Beniflah (2016): also looked at this difference.






All this means that most groups share the dominant rules of the game. This brings us to the next level of understanding culture: the rules of the game for policy making as defined by the Mental Images.

The consequences of “we are in it together.”

The different Mental Images are increasingly important because of the urgent global challenges like the energy crisis, climate change, immigration and poverty. Developing solutions requires a real understanding of the differences in “the rules of the game” and how to “bridge “them.

This paper will show how Mental Images shape values and ways of thinking. People working together in the same (country) culture share in principle the basic values and the rules of the game of that culture. Value diversity is, as a result, mostly limited. The differences are on the level of practices and the more superficial layers of culture.

In International teams, this is much more complex. Even stronger so in institutions cooperating internationally. It will be shown that seven culture profiles (called “Mental Images”) can be distinguished with seven different “rules of the game” for policy-making and management.

These different rules of the game also apply to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. Solving urgent global challenges cannot be done in isolation. “We are in this together”. But to be able to act together, we must understand the differences and be able to bridge them. The seven rules of the game and the consequences for D.E.I.B. will be illustrated with examples. Because of the constraints posed by the length of a Journal paper, one country is chosen for each culture profile:  the U.S.A., Germany, France, India, Nigeria, Japan and The Netherlands.

Some history of individual- and minority rights

In an earlier paper ( Wursten.H.2021), the origin of the focus on Individual Human Rights and the rights of Minorities was explored in the context of the development of Individualism as one of the four fundamental cultural dimensions discovered by Geert Hofstede: (Hofstede 2001)

Six defining steps were mentioned. The first three, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Reformation, are shown to emphasize the individual as a critical autonomous actor. Who, as a result, was encouraged to investigate the world independently and look critically at what worldly and religious authorities were saying.

The fourth step is described as the big turning point that came about during the time of disruptive ideas—roughly between 1850 and 1930. People like Freud showed that the unconscious enormously impacted supposedly conscious and rational behavior. Einstein made concepts of reality even more questionable with the relativity theory. As a result, people turned their interest from objective realism to how individuals are subjectively experiencing reality. The 5th step in the development of Individualism is the ‘legalization’ of independent thinking and the legitimate right for all to demand equal treatment. as formulated in the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Repressed individuals realized that their condition was associated with the specific minority group they belong to and identify with. It led to the identity struggle of (for example) women, people of color, and L.G.B.T.Q.—communities, etc. As “identity groups,” they started to claim their right to be seen and recognized. The 6th step is the focus on “diversity” and “inclusion” of all repressed minority groups and their right to express themselves.

The next step is more specific to one of the Mental Images: the “Contest.” (See below)

The seven mental images and D.E.I.  An overview.
     CONTEST (example U.S.A.)

Basic assumption: If people are free to compete, something good emerges. The only important rules are the rules for continuous and fair competition. Checks and balances should be in place to ensure nobody can stifle the competition by winning forever. There should be a level playing ground with equal opportunity. Winner takes all. Definition of common interest:  well-understood self-interest. (Persuasion as a tool) Important issue: accountability. The leader gets relative freedom of action for an agreed-upon time frame with operationalized targets. But the leader is held accountable for the results and, if needed, replaced.

Consequences for D.E.I.

The Contest Mental Image, emphasizing competition and winning and losing, led to  “identity wars”. Moreover, this value system tends to polarize, amplifying the difference between two “poles found in all cultures: progressives and conservatives.                                                                                                                                                                    Some years ago, Mark Lilla (Lilla.2016) analyzed the current tendencies. He asserted that instead of focusing on an expansive vision of creating a shared future, politicians “slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T.Q., and women voters at every stop.” He warns about this approach: “If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Unfortunately, as the data show, this was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions.

The New York Times (New York Times 10-3-2021) reported an interesting case :

“California’s Department of Education published a draft of an ethnic studies “model curriculum” for high school students in 2019. It managed the neat trick of omitting anti-Semitism. The draft outraged many Jews. And they were joined by Armenian, Assyrian, Hellenic, Hindu, and Korean civic groups in a statement urging the California Department of Education to “completely redraft the curriculum.” In its original form, they said, the document was “replete with mischaracterizations and omissions of major California ethnoreligious groups.”

The need for recognition is important to understand. People want to be themselves and to be recognized in the eyes of others. Identity politics stems from this desire. It does this by mobilizing a particular identity’s struggle for social recognition. The problem often begins with stigmatizing, mainly because the people involved belong to a group that others see as inferior because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. In that case, ascription can be hurtful because it does not align with how people want to present themselves.

The tendency to polarize in the Contest cultures can lead to unintended and undesired consequences. As a result of the “ïdentity” wars, some members of the dominant white majority group in the “Contest” countries might feel threatened. They think that their trusted “way of life” is under fire with the arguments of the Universal Declaration. Minorities, by claiming their rights, sometimes accuse the majority culture of crimes committed in the past. Crimes like colonialization and enslavement. The difficulty is that, in principle, these crimes are recognized by the majority culture (see note 1)  But, some people of the majority culture feel uncomfortable being held accountable for events that happened in the distant past, driven by a separate set of convictions from that time. The polarization has two major poles:

“Progressives” ask the majority culture to acknowledge the dramatic role of the white supremacy of the past and to be aware that they should take a step back in the societal discussion. They also should be conscious of “White fragility”.

“Conservatives” react by making the “woke movement” suspicious and promoting the “anti-woke” ideas. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis exemplifies this anti-woke polarization. He recently signed the “Parental Rights in Education” law. It restricted the ability of schoolteachers to mention sexual orientation or gender identity through grade 3. Moreover, under the guise of protecting children, DeSantis claims that the principle that all people are equal—including sexual minorities—is incompatible with traditional religious values. At his request, in March 2023, the Florida legislature approved a law banning public schools or private businesses from teaching people to feel guilty for historical events in which members of their race behaved poorly, the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (Stop WOKE) Act.

DeSantis has promised to defund all D.E.I. programs at public colleges and universities in Florida.                                                                                                                          Kanko (Kanko 2022), an M.E.P. for Belgium but born in Burkina Faso, makes an interesting observation about the effect of this polarization. She writes: “The polarization tends to make the color of the skin suspect in a reversed way in the fight between woke and anti-woke. “In the struggle for justice and against suppression, the tendency is to say that racism is “systemic, “meaning that the color of your skin determines whether you belong to the suppressed of suppressors. If you are white, you are automatically part of a system that excludes people of color.”

Equity and affirmative action.

The recent discussions at the supreme court on affirmative action in the U.S.A. show that the emphasis in the Contest is on equal opportunity. One of the judges said: “I hear diversity all the time, but I don’t understand it at all”. The observation is that the emphasis on racial preferences in college admissions is wrong firstly because they make it more difficult for certain racial groups over others to gain access. But also because they promote the view that certain types of diversity matter more than others. Applying the normative definition of discrimination, in which race hinders an applicant’s acceptance into an institution, the consequences are clear. The emphasis on how graduates look points to what became a key problem: after decades of diversity talk, everyone can see that elite student bodies are lacking in class, ideology and thought diversity. Neglecting class and income as criteria makes it possible for a Nigerian multi-millionaire child to be its beneficiary instead of a descendant of enslaved Americans or an Asian applicant. Or even a white student from a poor background.

Contest keywords for promoting “we are in it together” as the central D.E.I.B. theme: A burning platform (creating a sense of urgency), leadership (even in kindergarten the desirability of being a leader is promoted)


                                               Network (Example: the Netherlands)


Rules of the game. The basic assumption is that society is a network of independent, autonomous equal stakeholders with different ideas but willing to find common ground. Important concepts: the four C’s:  Consensus seeking, Collegial administration, cooperation,  Co-optation (trying to get the enemy aboard), autonomy, empowerment, and incrementalism. Important saying: “Nobody owns the truth”.Definition of common interest:shared” interest, defined by consensus, the participation of all stakeholders and incrementalism. “Emerging insight”Decision-making: decisions are ideally made by involving all important stakeholders, regardless of their level and status. In the end, all relevant stakeholders should support the decision.

Consequences for D.E.I.:

Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution says: All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race, or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted. The focus of D.E.I. in Dutch society is ensuring that the rule of law enforces “Article 1.”

Key issues:

-Racial and ethnic discrimination:

The Netherlands has a long tradition of tolerance and inclusion. Still, racial and ethnic discrimination exists. People from non-Western backgrounds, especially those with North African or Middle Eastern heritage, often face employment, housing, and education discrimination.

-Ethnic profiling is seen as a silent poison. A few examples of highly publicized scandals.

In a 2020 report by the Dutch National Police, it was found that police officers were more likely to stop people with a non-In Western background compared to those with a Western background. The Dutch Government has acknowledged the issue of ethnic profiling and has taken steps to address it. In 2020, the Dutch Government announced that it would invest in training programs for police officers to address unconscious bias and increase awareness of discrimination. The Government also set up a national hotline for people to report incidents of ethnic profiling by the police. Another scandal in the Netherlands is the so-called “racial profiling” by the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). The scandal came to light in 2019 when it was revealed that the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration had unfairly targeted and discriminated against individuals with dual nationality or a non-Dutch background for years. The policy disproportionately affected families with a Turkish or Moroccan background. The scandal caused outrage in the Netherlands, with many people calling for accountability and compensation for those affected. As a result, the Dutch Government issued a public apology and launched an investigation into the matter. In addition, the scandal led to the resignation of several government officials, including the Secretary of State for Social Affairs and Employment and the Director-General of the Tax and Customs Administration.

-The Zwarte Piet controversy, also known as the Black Pete controversy, is a longstanding cultural debate in the Netherlands surrounding the character of “Zwarte Piet” (Black Pete), who traditionally is portrayed as a black character during the annual Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) festival. The controversy stems from the racist connotations associated with the portrayal of Zwarte Piet and the offense it causes to people, particularly those of Afro-Caribbean descent. In line with the rules of the game of the Network countries, there have been efforts by the Dutch Government and civil society to address the controversy and find a solution that is respectful to all communities. Some of the solutions that have been developed include: Gradual phasing out of the black face and introduction of new characters, such as Chimney Piet or Rainbow Piet, will diversify the Sinterklaas festival and make it more inclusive.

One special element in the Netherlands has to do with

Gender inequality: The Netherlands has a relatively high gender equality index, but women still face challenges in the workplace, with lower representation in leadership positions and unequal pay,

A special cultural issue is here that many Dutch women prefer part-time work. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics in the Netherlands, the rate is 70%!   One reason is that the Netherlands has a strong tradition of emphasizing the importance of caring for children. In addition, because the Netherlands has been a wealthy country since appr.1600, they could afford to let the mothers stay home to do so.                                                                                                               The additional cultural factor is that a high priority is placed on balancing work and personal life. As a result, many Dutch women also prioritize spending time with their children and pursuing hobbies or other interests outside of work. Critics accuse the people involved of “Part-time elitism”. It refers to a cultural phenomenon in which part-time workers are often regarded as superior or more virtuous than full-time workers. The belief is that part-time workers are happier and more fulfilled and that part-time work is more ethical or sustainable, allowing individuals to pursue other interests and reduce their carbon footprint. Critics argue that part-time elitism is misguided and ignores full-time work’s economic and societal benefits, such as career advancement, job security, and economic growth.

Covenanting: a political solution for solving difficult issues. Covenanting is a common approach for solving difficult problems in the Netherlands, particularly in the context of environmental and social policies. A covenant is a voluntary agreement or contract between parties, typically between the Government,  businesses, and civil society organizations, that outlines their mutual obligations and responsibilities for achieving specific policy goals. Because covenants are not hammered in stone, they cover an essential part of Dutch Culture: incrementalism.  Abortion rights are to be understood in this way. The Netherlands has a long history of progressive social policies, including legalizing abortion in 1981. As a result, evenconservative groups in the Netherlands tend to support abortion rights. They do so as a way to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, which can have economic andsocial costs for society as a whole. By allowing women to access safe and legal abortion services, they are helping to prevent unintended pregnancies.

Network keywords for promoting “we are in it together” as a central D.E.I.B. theme:  Covenanting, incrementalism.


                                        Well oiled Machine (Example Germany)

Key reference: Principled, balanced interest formulated by experts. System: deductive, need for systematic thinking and order.Important concepts: the principled, internalized need for order, procedures, planning and structure. Decision-making: systematic and procedural”, planmaesig handelnExperts and expert information play an important role. The key is principled, balanced and informed proposals by experts.

Consequences for D.E.I.

One of the strongest features of the Well Oiled Machine culture is the principled approach. An example for Germany is the principled statement by the previous Bundes-Chancellor Angela Merkel, during the 2015 European Migrant crisis: “Wir schaffen das!” (We can handle this)

Because Germany now has a significant immigrant population, it is trying to balance some disruptive incidents with a principled approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion again. Some of the main incidents:

The “Köln” effect and the German society This goes back to the New Year’s Eve incidents in Cologne in 2015, where a large number of women were sexually assaulted and robbed by groups of men, primarily of North African and Arab descent. The events of that night had a significant impact on German society and its political landscape. The incident led to widespread public outrage, particularly towards the police and the Government’s response to the attacks. In addition, there were debates about immigration policy, integration, and security. Many Germans, including politicians, expressed concern about the country’s ability to integrate immigrants and refugees from different cultural backgrounds. The incident also increased anti-immigrant sentiment, with far-right groups using it to push their anti-immigrant and anti-Islam agenda. This, in turn, led to a rise in hate crimes and anti-immigrant protests across the country. Furthermore, the incident also led to changes in law enforcement policies and practices, with the Government introducing new measures to combat sexual violence and improve public safety.

2016 Würzburg train attack On 18 July 2016, a 17-year-old refugee from Afghanistan stabbed and injured five people on and outside a train near Würzburg in Germany. He was shot dead by police soon afterward after attacking a police tactical unit with an axe.

2016 Munich shooting 22 July 2016,  a mass shooting occurred in Munch in Germany. An 18-year-old Iranian-German opened fire on fellow teenagers at a Mcdonalds’ before shooting at bystanders in the street outside and then in the mall. Nine people were killed, 16 others were injured, and four by gunfire.

2016 Ansbach bombing On 24 July 2016, fifteen people were injured, four seriously, in a suicide bombing outside a wine bar in Ansbach, Germany. The bomber was a 27-year-old Syrian asylum seeker. He was the only fatality in the incident. According to German authorities, he was in contact with the Islamic State and had been planning more attacks before his backpack bomb exploded accidentally.[

Another cause of unrest is the issue of Lebanese gangs in Berlin, particularly in recent years. These gangs, primarily composed of young men of Lebanese origin, have been involved in criminal activities such as drug trafficking, extortion, and violent assaults.

The German government and law enforcement agencies have taken several measures to address these issues,  such as increasing police presence and launching investigations into the gangs’ activities. However, some have criticized these efforts as insufficient to combat the problem fully. Far-right groups try to use this to push their anti-immigrant and anti-Islam agenda.

Well Oiled Machine keywords for promoting “we are in it together” as a central D.E.I.B. theme:  Keine experimenten (No experiments) is a reoccurring slogan at election times since the Second World War. People long for predictability. Hence another keyword: Ordnung muss sein (order should be). The focus should be on formulating consistent principles for action, preferably by involving all layers concerned. Mitbestimmung (participative decision-making) is seen as desirable.


                                                 Solar System (Example France)

Key reference: acceptance of top-down policy-making within the framework of human rghts.                                                                                                                      The people at the top are accepted in formulating the common good. Still, they are constrained by a rule of law that guarantees the individual rights of citizens. System: top-down, deductive, individual rights, intellectualism. Important concepts: centralization, the tension between accepting hierarchy and top-down decision-making, and awareness of individual rights. People respect what you inspect. Decision making: top-down. The top person has the privilege of decision-making. Others can be involved. But after a discussion, the top person must be clear about which decision has been made.

Consequences for D.E.I.

France is a culturally diverse country with a history of immigration. There are several issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the country. Some of the main problems:

-Religion and state.

Many cultural differences go back to how religion and state deal with the need to separate powers. The key question is if freedom of religion is a defense of religion against the state. Or protection of the state against religion?

The French model is hierarchical but also universalist and wants to be color-blind. Everybody can be French as long as the fundamental values of the Republic are supported. People of all races, religions, and backgrounds are treated as citizens with equal rights without differentiation. France maintains no register of ethnicity or religion. A critical element of that model is the French concept of secularism, laïcité, a legacy of the French struggle against the power of the Roman Catholic Church. Whereas freedom of religion in the United States began as a defense of religion against the state, France’s started with a defense of the state against religion. So French policies such as banning Muslim headscarves in school, perceived by many French as combating religious coercion, are often criticized for imposing French identity on immigrants forcibly. To its critics, the French model does too little to improve the conditions of Arab and African Muslims living in suburban public housing, the “banlieues” where youth unemployment runs sky-high, and many Islamist radicals are incubated. Conditions there have only worsened with the coronavirus pandemic. One of the consequences is a rise in Islamophobia: France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, but Muslims face discrimination, stigmatization, and even violence due to their religion. The Government’s policies, such as the ban on the hijab in public spaces, have contributed to this issue. 

A related problem is socioeconomic inequality: There is a significant wealth gap in France, with people from marginalized communities and low-income families experiencing limited opportunities for education, employment, and social mobility.

-Universalists versus Multi-Culturalists: France is a rule-based democracy. All citizens are supposed to be free and equal. But France is also a multi-cultural society with minorities that, based on their religious value system, have a problem with homosexuality and the equal position of women. This led to a strong societal discussion between so-called Universalists and Multi- Culturalists. The latter group wants that the values of the minority cultures should be taken into account even if they don’t accept equal rights for women and gays. Enforcing human rights is marginalizing and excluding these minority groups is the argument. The need for inclusion is the central dilemma in France.

Solar System keywords for promoting “we are in it together” as a central D.E.I.B. theme:

“The philosophy of”. A strong need for formulating an all-encompassing narrative for the why and what of the “we are in it together”. The decision-making is supposed to be top-down with an emphasis on the rights of citizens.


                                                                          Pyramid (Example Nigeria)

Key reference: society is like a pyramid with an existential difference in power positions. Everybody has a rightful place in this Pyramid. Loyalty is in the first place to people of in-group. (Extended family, tribe, ethnic group, religious group, powerful family) Important concepts: acceptance of hierarchy, centralization of power, implicit order, formality, loyalty to in-group first, sensitivity for high context communication. Decision-making: top-down. Actions are taken only after the top person makes a clear decision and shows commitment

Consequences for D.E.I.

Nigeria has a diverse population of over 250 ethnic groups, each with its own rituals, language, and tradition. But unfortunately, the diversity in Nigeria has also led to discrimination, marginalization, and inequality. Here are some of the main issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in Nigeria:

-Nigeria has a high level of economic inequality, with a significant proportion of its population living in poverty while a small percentage enjoys enormous wealth.

-Regional inequality: There is a significant disparity in development and economic opportunities between Nigeria’s different regions, with some regions, such as the South, being more developed than others, such as the North.

-Ethnic and religious discrimination: Nigeria is a diverse country, and ethnic and religious discrimination is a significant issue, with some ethnic and religious groups facing exclusion and violence.

-Access to education: While Nigeria has made some progress in increasing access to education, many children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, still do not have access to quality education.

LGBTQ+ Rights: Nigeria criminalizes same-sex relationships and has some of the harshest laws against homosexuality in the world. LGBTQ+ individuals face discrimination, harassment, and violence and are often denied healthcare, housing, and employment access.

Recent research about the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion among the leading companies in Nigeria was done by a team of Hofstede Insights Group Nigeria (NIGERIA DEI REPORT 2022) The report had four key parameters:  Gender Diversity, Age Diversity, Ethnic Diversity and Educational Background. As can be expected in a Pyramid country, ethnic diversity was found to be a key challenge. The researchers looked at the composition of Boards & Exco members in Nigeria’s Leading Companies. The results show unequal representation. The Southwest, the territory of mainly one tribe, the Yorubas, was represented more than other regions and tribes: 43%. The South East, dominated by the Igbo ethnic group, had only 21%. The South-South 12 % and other regions altogether only 11% of corporate leadership,

Pyramid keywords for promoting “we are in it together” as a central D.E.I.B. theme:  The brinkmanship of the trusted leader is the central message. The interest of the majority culture should be clear. The project is most successful if all in-groups trust the leader to do the right things.


                                                      Family (Example India)

Key reference: common good as formulated by the top of the dominant in-group. System: rewarding loyalty, trust, and social control. Frequently long-term orientation. Important Concepts: Acceptance of hierarchy, Centralization, loyalty to in-group, protection in return for loyalty, upward critical feedback is not acceptable, people respect what you inspect, indirect (high context) communication is seen as civilized, Decision making: top down. After the decision, subordinates expect detailed instructions

Consequeces for D.E.I.

India is a diverse country with a complex social structure, and several issues are related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some of the main problems:

  1. Caste Discrimination: The caste system, a social hierarchy that has existed for centuries in India, persists and results in discrimination against people from lower castes, also known as Dalits. This discrimination can affect their access to education, employment, and housing.
  2. Religious Tensions: India is officially a secular country with a significant population of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs. However, there have been tensions between these communities, with communal violence and discrimination against minorities.
  3. Gender Inequality: Women in India face numerous challenges, including limited access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. They are often subjected to violence and discrimination, and their voices are often excluded from decision-making.
  4. Family keywords for promoting “we are in it together” as a central D.E.I.B. theme:

The brinkmanship of the trusted leader is the central message. The interest of the majority culture should be clear. The project is most successful if all in-groups trust the leader to do the right things.




Key reference: balanced interest between all (in-group) stakeholders System: rewarding loyalty, trust, and social control. Long-term orientation, focus on harmony.. Important concepts: Dynamic equilibrium, constant improvement, perseverance, reading between the lines, Upwards critical feedback is not rewarded. Decision-making: intensive consultations top down and bottom up (Ho-Ren-So), careful weighing of proposals. (Megawashi)

Consequences for D.E.I.

Japan faces several equity issues affecting various population segments like any other country. Some of the main equity issues in Japan:

-Discrimination and exclusion: Discrimination and exclusion are a significant issue in Japan, with minority groups, including people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities, facing discrimination and exclusion in various areas such as employment, housing, and healthcare.

-Gender inequality: Japan has a significant gender inequality issue, with women facing discrimination and exclusion in the workforce, politics, and society as a whole.

-Access to education: Japan has a strong education system, but there are still significant disparities in educational opportunities between socioeconomic and geographic areas.

Miyamori and  Reiko (2023) conclude in their analysis of Inclusion that Japan has a focus on two fundamental questions:

  1. Does an individual feel they have a high sense of belonging as an insider within their workgroup?
  2. Does an individual feel their uniqueness has high value within their workgroup?

Professor Shore and her colleagues explain pseudo-inclusion, or the balance between Belonging and uniqueness, in “Inclusion and Diversity in Work Groups: A Review and Model for Future Research,” with four key features: exclusion, inclusion, assimilation, and differentiation. In their efforts for diversity and inclusion, Japanese companies tend to focus on unity and being a member of the organization. They tend to lean toward “assimilation,” which leads to homogenization and loss of uniqueness.


Japanese keywords for promoting “we are in it together” as a central D.E.I.B. theme:

Dynamic equilibrium covers the message that has to be communicated. It is constantly improving the approach, taking care that the balance of the stakeholders is taken into account. The brinkmanship of the trusted leader is the central message. The interest of the majority culture should be clear. The project is most successful if all in-groups trust the leader to do the right things.



How to increase the effectiveness of D.E.I approaches. Management of change

The examples show that the D.E.I. approach of a country is highly related to the characteristics of the Mental Image and the rules of the game of that Mental Image.

Recently, doubts have been expressed if training alone does change attitudes or behavior. And if so, how much and for how long. Research shows that, in general, short-term educational interventions do not change people. Let go of biases that people acquire over a lifetime. The most disappointing discovery is that anti-bias training even tends to activate stereotypes.

One important issue is the consequence of making anti-bias training obligatory. Self-determination research shows that when organizations frame motivation for pursuing a goal as originating internally, commitment rises, but when they frame it as originating externally, rebellion increases.

Two common features of diversity training — mandatory participation and legal curriculum — will make participants feel that external power is trying to control their behavior. By mandating participation, employers send the message that employees need to change, and the employer will require it. By emphasizing the law, employers convey that external government mandates are behind training. These features may lead employees to think that commitment to diversity is being coerced. A recent meta-analysis suggests that a change in unconscious bias does not necessarily lead to a change in discrimination. Instead, discrimination may result from habits of mind and behavior or organizational practices not rooted in unconscious bias alone.

All the above leads to the conclusion that training alone cannot be expected to change the workplace effectively. Training should be part of a wider program of change management.

The three stages of change management: Unfreezing, Moving and Freezing.

We can learn from one of the main experts on change management Carl Lewin and his thinking about Forcefields. One of the lessons is: Pushing is not sustainable.

 Of course, there are many theories and models about change management. But one of the clearest and simplest is Lewin’s three-step model. The first step in this model is to ‘unfreeze‘ people; i.e., people need to understand why things should be done differently. This first step, the process of unfreezing, is culturally sensitive. This means that explaining why something should be done differently within the organization cannot be shown or “rolled out” The second step in the model is ‘moving‘; i.e., new insights, attitudes, and skills are required after making people aware that they need to do things differently. Finally, the third step is ‘freezing‘; i.e., the newly acquired skills should be developed into a new routine. The secret to understanding effective change management is to realize that, concerning all individuals and groups, two forces are constantly at work: the force of change and resistance. These forces push and pull at each other and maintain a dynamic equilibrium.

We all like to do new things and improve our work. However, we also want to continue doing something we already know. It gives us emotional security. When we apply our ‘routine‘, it gives us a positive feeling of mastering our environment. It also saves energy; it would be exhausting to invent the wheel daily.

It is easy to see that if one starts pushing the force of change in this dynamic equilibrium, the force of resistance will push back.

So, to make change successful, it is essential to start doing something about resistance. The way to do this is culturally sensitive. So when considering rolling out a change program, one needs to understand the dynamics of change and resistance and how one needs to vary motivation styles due to cultural differences.

To take the stages at heart and to be more effective in running the D.E.I. programs, we should take a four-step approach to D.E.I.

The first thing that international management should realize is that the influence of cultural differences should not be underestimated. In an interview with the Economist, Geert Hofstede said that culture is more often a source of conflict than synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster [1].” In the following text, we propose solutions for solving the potential pitfalls of cooperation in internationally diverse teams.

  1. Unfreezing

Identify Key Differences: Some behavioral differences are superficial or may refer to personal preferences. Other differences are deeply embedded in the value systems. But it should also be clear that real differences exist. Therefore, making people aware of the shorelines is essential to build bridges.

  1. Moving 1: Bridging the Gap

After the key differences have been identified, there is a need to find acceptable solutions for all parties concerned, i.e., bridging the gap. The key is to find win-win solutions.

  1. Moving 2: Integrating Differences

 It is also important to keep the ‘win-win’ mentality and the solutions intact in times of tension. Experience shows that negotiated solutions to bridge differences work as long as they are remembered, and as long there is no crisis. But when daily stress takes over, and a zillion other things demand immediate attention, the procedural solutions tend to be forgotten. This is even truer when a crisis erupts. Under these circumstances, individuals naturally revert to their ‘natural’ behavior. In essence, we are asking for a D.E.I. officer in organizations to take care of constantly reminding people of the negotiated and accepted solutions.

  1. Freezing: Anchoring Solutions

 Lastly, solutions should be anchored. The Role of Organizational Culture.                                                                

Anchoring is only possible if the solutions are embedded in a company’s organizational culture. That means that management should continuously reinforce the desired behaviors consistent with the organizational culture they want to foster and ensure that the solutions are fully integrated into the assessment and reward culture (depending on the relevant Mental Image).




1.The U.S. House of Representatives on July 2008 apologized for slavery in the following words.

That the House of Representatives

(A)acknowledges that slavery is incompatible with the basic founding principles recognized in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal;

B)acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow;

(C) apologizes to African Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow; and.

(D) expresses its commitment to rectify the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African Americans under slavery and Jim Crow and to stop the occurrence of human rights violations in the future.

2.The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for the past actions of the Dutch State: “to enslaved people in the past, everywhere in the world, who suffered as a consequence of those actions, as well as to their daughters and sons, and all their descendants, up to the present day.”

3. https://culture-impact.net/globalization-culture-and-the-hofstede-dimensions/

For a related paper see:

To build bridges, you must know where the shorelines are.


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