My Voice. My Privilege.

As a man of obvious African decent I am well acquainted with many of the stereotypes associated to my image. These stereotypes and treatments vary slightly in my frequent travels around the world – from dismissive language from service industry works to apprehension from fellow commuters when I get ‘too close’. But I also recognize my privilege. I am happily married with three young children, have an amazing network of friends and colleagues and overall great prospects in life. Yet the privilege that has opened many doors that otherwise would have remained closed to me, does not stem from any of the aforementioned. My tangible privilege comes from my accent. You see, I was born in Canada and raised in the United States. I’ve been working as an expat in Norway for almost four years now and I have to confess that I ‘use’ my accent to my advantage. And I know to use it because this society taught me that it has value. 

Photo by Hrayr Movsisyan.

When I first moved here (Norway) and was looking for a place to rent, I had two of my interns calling house listings we found online. I would notice that they both barely got two sentences out before they were told ‘Nei’ or the receiver would hang up the phone. So I made some calls of my own and every time someone answered they would invite me to come and view the property to see if I was interested in renting or leasing it. I also had my interns call back the numbers that flat out rejected them and when I spoke, those same rejections would extend a warm invitation to me. There was no doubt that my accent in contrast to their notably ‘African’ accents won me favors. So, to my fellow expats or those seeking opportunities here in Norway, it may help to add a few ‘privileged’ friends to your network to make a few calls and introductions just to secure the warm invite to your next opportunity. 

Written by David, a Minister and Business Owner.

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Chisom Udeze

Founder of Diversify, Diversify Consult, HerSpace & The Annual

Chisom is an Economist, a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Strategist, and a 3 times founder of impact driven companies. She has over 14 years of experience working with organizations like the European Commission, The United Nations, ExxonMobil and The Economist Group. Chisom is analytical and a data enthusiast. She is passionate about interrogating the cross-sectoral relationship between society’s inhabitants, resources, production, technology, distribution and output. She efficiently and effectively unlocks complex systems, interprets data, forecasts socio-economic trends and conducts research.

Having lived and worked in 7 countries across 3 continents, she is highly adaptable to different circumstances and people, and thrives in uncertain environments.

As the founder of Diversify and Diversify Consult, Chisom and her team work with companies, institutions, governments and civil society to develop sustainable DEIB strategies and embed measurable diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace and society. In addition, in 2022, Diversify launched the Diversify Nordics Summit, the largest conference in the Nordics that gathers cross-sectoral stakeholders to amplify DEIB in the Nordics and beyond.

In 2020, she founded HerSpace, a diverse and inclusive co-creation community for all genders, with particular focus on women and non-binary people. In 2022, HerSpace launched HerTech, Women in Tech incubator, for women-led companies, with a focus on the inclusion of diverse founders. 

Chisom is a thought-leader in DEIB and a passionate advocate for mental health and wellness. She writes often on DEIB and justice related topics, some of her work is published on Forbes.

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