Hey there! I am Maria and I am a Senior Design Manager at the LEGO Group. The main purpose of my role is creating digital experiences for the builders of tomorrow.

A women typing on a LEGO typewriter

Why is diversity and inclusion important?
When we talk about diversity and inclusion, I believe representation is key – you can't be what you can't see. We often see male figures portrayed in positions of power, leaving girls with no real role model to look up to and identify with. We need to understand how this could be discouraging girls to pursue careers in male-dominated industries, or limit their ambitions to what they want to become in the future. We need diversity and inclusion in our workplace so we can be role models for the kids that don’t feel represented in media or certain industries today. This applies not only to gender but also to race and other minorities. Again, representation is key!

Do you think companies can influence change through their own policies?
I believe so, with policies that bring equity to the workplace. We need to shift from equality to equity. While equality aims to bring equal opportunities to everyone, equity recognises each person’s different circumstances so we can allocate opportunities in a way that everyone reaches an equal outcome.

Our working life as we know it today was built on the assumption that part of the family unit would stay home to take care of kids and chores while the other part would provide – meaning it was built to favour men. Therefore, women today feel they need to choose between their career or having a family, when both should be possible at all times. How can we do this? With policies like equal paternity and maternity leave, so women aren’t at a disadvantage and both parents have the same option to put their careers on pause to raise a family.

What is your individual contribution to diversity and inclusion at the LEGO Group
I've recently joined the Women Employee Advocacy Group as an Employee and Community Lead. One of the issues we are encountering at the LEGO Group is that not enough women apply for jobs in tech. The problem starts during education, or while choosing a career path, so one of our initiatives in the pipeline is to implement mentorship programs in schools with some of our amazing female leaders in tech, to show tech is for everyone. We want our girls to dream big!

a lady on stage at a TED x event

What has been your biggest learning moment, or moment of insight, when it comes to D&I?
During my career I've struggled being seen, often due to the fact that my reporting line was predominantly male. However, every time I needed it, there was some inspiring woman willing to help and listen to me and my initiatives. It was a big learning for me to see the privilege I've had working in great companies where the workforce is quite balanced, but we must not forget that this is not the reality in most regions and companies. There’s still a lot of work to do!

Why is representation in play important?
Representation in play can come in many ways or forms. Sharing content and creations empowers kids today, who are eager to see their interests and passions reflected in the world around them. They want to have a say. Therefore, it is important to point out that representation goes beyond themselves but also needs to capture their interests. Through play, we have the unique opportunity of making this possible, as well as creating a safe space where kids can share their interests with others.

How do you connect LEGO® play with unlocking creativity and confidence for both boys and girls?
Unfortunately, gender stereotypes start at a very young age, limiting children's potential growing up. Research shows that when asking parents what work they could see their kids doing as grown-ups, seven times as many saw sons working in construction – 22% compared to 3% for daughters – while almost three times as many saw daughters in nursing or care work – 22% compared to 8% for sons. (Source: Fawcett Society, Unlimited Potential 2020). The perpetuation of these stereotypes has negative effects in kids’ development, especially on self-esteem, confidence and learning skills.

The beauty of LEGO® bricks is their versatility. They are a genderless toy, suitable for everyone. Our aim is to create a journey that fits every kid’s needs. We want to create an experience that does not limit kids' creativity, but rather allows it to flourish, bringing forward their uniqueness and individuality away from gender stereotypes.