Diversity & Inclusion in LEGO® User Groups

30 Oct 2021

Written by Krista Simpson

The LEGO Group has a Diversity and Inclusion department that provides guidance on internal practices related to their two global priorities (valuing differences and improving representation) but they have not provided similar guidance to recognized LEGO User Groups (LUGs) that are part of the LEGO Ambassador Network. Even without this guidance, LUGs can take steps towards incorporating diversity and inclusion into their framework.

Diversity is the variability of people, ideas, and behaviours within a group or organization. People vary in their characteristics, experiences, traits, and personal background. The greater the variability, the more diverse the group. This typically translates into more innovative ideas, greater creativity, and richer opportunities for collaboration.

Inclusion involves creating an environment where everyone feels included, respected, and valued. An inclusive environment is welcoming to people regardless of their personal background. It is more than saying, “they can join us if they want to.” It is about creating a safe space where people of different backgrounds can see themselves belonging and connecting with others.

LUGs are located all over the world and it is important to acknowledge the variation in local and regional context from political, to cultural, to social, to religious when incorporating diversity and inclusion into your LUG. With that in mind, the LEGO community is a global community, and building and maintaining a respectful LEGO community is a shared responsibility.

 There are some guiding principles that I have found helpful:

  • Words matter – be conscious about your word choice as individuals and with how you represent your LUG in verbal and written material (social media, blogs, emails, etc.). Try to use gender-neutral pronouns like “they” or “their”, replace gender-biased terms with unbiased terms (e.g. instead of chairman use chair or chairperson), and use people first language whenever possible.
  • Language changes – try to stay up to date with terminology as acceptable terminology for describing specific equity groups (characteristics of one’s personal background) changes over time and varies around the world.
  • Mindset makes a difference – try to be open to people with different experiences and perspectives, be willing to listen to others, and take ownership when you make a mistake. Use curiosity and self-reflection.

There are some steps you can take towards creating a diverse and inclusive LUG:

  • Learn about the various dimensions of diversity and the barriers related to each. These can include:
    • race, ancestry, colour, place of origin, political belief, religion or spiritual beliefs, marital status, family status, physical dis/ability, mental dis/ability, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, rural/urban, socioeconomic.
  • Become familiar with local definitions of equity groups (dimensions of diversity) and any legislation protecting these groups.
  • Include diversity and inclusion in your LUG mandate and goals. It can be helpful to ask:
    • Are we a diverse and inclusive club? How do we know?
    • What can we do to promote inclusion in our LUG and the LEGO community?
    • What is one thing we can do to make the LUG more inclusive for both current and potential members?
  • Add diversity and inclusion to the agenda of LUG meetings (e.g. collectively work on your mandate and goals, share articles on diversity and inclusion related to LEGO and facilitate safe discussions about the material, create sig figs and discuss any challenges some members may have experienced in creating a sig fig of themselves, etc.).
  • Incorporate diversity and inclusion into collaborative displays (e.g. include the LEGO wheelchair in various places, use minifigures to represent various types of families, use different skin tones for minifigures, etc.).
  • Assess your recruitment strategy to ensure your message is inclusive. Regardless of someone’s background (remember those dimensions of diversity), would they feel comfortable joining your LUG? 

There is no single way to do diversity and inclusion, but we can all work on making small changes in ourselves and in our LUGs as we build a respectful LEGO community together.

This article appears in issue 68 of Brick Journal magazine.