Diversity & Inclusion in LEGO® Fan Media02 Nov 2021
Written by Barbara Hoel and Alex Johnson
Why should a blog about LEGO building techniques care about Diversity and Inclusion?
This is a question that we at Tips&Bricks have been asked many times. But before we propose our answer to this question, let’s back up and look at the LEGO Ecosystem.
The LEGO Ecosystem was, to our knowledge, first referenced by HispaBricks magazine in an article on the LEGO Ecosystem Project in 2014. This project was initiated by The LEGO Group to document and better understand the actors, dynamics, and relationships that affects everything related to LEGO, from the products to the community of builders and fans.
At the top of the LEGO ecosystem is The LEGO Group itself, and we would argue that at the heart is the AFOL community. In the HispaBrick article, Yun Mi Antorini said one of the conclusions of the four-month study was:
“[That] adult LEGO users have created a network of activities that are centered on their shared joy of the LEGO hobby and that enables users around the world to access and share authentic and very exciting new experiences and functionalities of importance to the hobby.“– Yun Mi Antorini, The LEGO Group
Going outside of the LEGO hobby, a year after the HispaBrick article Eamonn Kelly of deloitte.com wrote in his article, Business Ecosystems Come of Age:
“People want to belong, to understand and be understood, to achieve acknowledged competence in their chosen arena, and to make a positive difference in their world.”– Eamonn Kelly, Deloitte
We can see this philosophy reflected by The LEGO Group in their six brand values: Imagination, Fun, Learning, Creativity, Quality and Caring. Focusing on caring, they say:
“Caring is about our desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children, for our colleagues, our partners, and the world we live in. Doing that little extra, not because we have to – but because it feels right and because we care.”– The LEGO Group
Bringing the topics back to Tips&Bricks, we became part of the LEGO Ecosystem in 2015 when our blog was launched. Since then, we have been sharing custom building techniques and custom builds on Instagram, Facebook and the Tips&Bricks website. Having accumulated a large number of followers over the years, we have a followers across the globe. Alongside being recognized officially by LEGO as a Recognised LEGO Fan Media, our founder Alex Johnson realized that Tips&Bricks needed to be a socially responsible company and that the blog had the ability to be an influencer for positive social change in the wider LEGO community.
When Tips&Bricks made the announcement that they were going to be making a concerted effort to be more diverse and inclusive there was plenty of supportive feedback. However, there is always a fair amount of negative pushback with every mention of D&I within the LEGO community as a whole. Examples of these comments are:
- “People should only care about the quality of the build not the person’s ethnicity, race etc..”
- “LEGO is a children’s toy”
- “Keep politics away from toys/LEGO”
- “Children don’t care if minifigures are yellow.”
It is a common misconception that social justice is a political issue that doesn’t affect children and holds no interest to the members of the LEGO adult community. As mentioned above, caring about social issues is not new to the LEGO Ecosystem. It has been there for some time and is a core value of The LEGO Group themselves, even if it has not been reflected in all sectors of the system.
Therefore, we decided to make an introductory announcement of our commitment to diversity and inclusion internally so that we can be held accountable to our followers. One of the best ways to maintain goals is to share them publicly and through this announcement we have been able to take suggestions and accept offers of help to achieve these goals. There is no easy way or magic fix to get everything right with this subject – that is part of the point. We can’t do it alone and silently.
You will know the AFOL community is an inclusive community when under-represented minorities and women can look around and see people like themselves in every sector of the ecosystem. We are not there yet.
But by LEGO Fan Media starting conversations about Diversity & Inclusion issues affecting the LEGO community, taking it into regard for reviews and sharing a large diversity of builds and builders, we can contribute to making the community more inclusive, diverse and welcoming. The responsibility should not solely be on the shoulders of LEGO User Groups or LEGO Online Communities – we all have a part to play.
You can view all of our D&I-related posts on the Tips&Bricks website.
To conclude this article, here are 4 fan media who also don’t shy away from making Diversity & Inclusion-related content, that you should definitely check out if you haven’t already.
- The Rambling Brick, who has done a number of blog posts looking into the statistics of gender balance in themes and marketing: https://ramblingbrick.com/tag/diversity-and-inclusion/
- Cafe Corner and SHYTIMEismyTIME, YouTubers who both made excellent videos on representation in minifigures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhLLgq7htM0
- Jay’s Brick Blog, who expertly summarised LEGO’s announcement on addressing gender bias: https://jaysbrickblog.com/news/the-lego-group-to-remove-gender-bias-and-harmful-stereotypes-from-lego-products-and-marketing/
and shared 50 female creators to follow: https://jaysbrickblog.com/news/50-female-lego-designers-creatives-and-content-creators-you-should-follow/