Then pick yourself up, go out there again, and do better. There are no shortcuts nor silver bullets for enabling inclusive workplaces. Diversity and Inclusion Programs Revisited. This series features community members who are doing the work of advancing inclusion and diversity, who celebrate how Canada is more like a "stew" than a "melting pot". Instead of avoiding potentially contentious engagements, we can use them as stepping stones to increase awareness, mutual understanding and growth. Executive Human Resources. Understanding the culture and location of where they are managing is vital to creating brave conversations that fit the situation. Demonstrate your interest in the other person’s answers, and check to make sure you’re understanding them. Diversity and inclusion is a key issue for HR professionals, but rather than viewing it as a ‘tick box’ exercise, we need to learn to live these values day to day, and not shy away from challenging conversations. But you need to start somewhere. That doesn’t mean that truly brave and effective conversations can’t or shouldn’t be had to build and reinforce positive company culture. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Implications of the COVID-19 Response April 7, 2020. And setting an example where employees feel they can give their opinions without fear, shame or retribution will go a long way toward paving that road. To get over your fears, ask the right questions, read up on books and other resources that will help you better understand your marginalized colleagues, and learn to embrace the discomfort of talking about and tackling tough issues. Many employees have worked for companies that have a “check-the-box” safety program. Sharing their own stories and growth in thinking over their career will go a long way in starting off on the right foot. Others have a culturally diverse workforce based on proximity to a major metropolitan area. This is especially true for the Inclusion part of D&I. Photography by. Honesty is important – Perception of honest intentions is often intuitive. Understanding personal culture – Many companies have a homogeneous employee base. October 27, 2020. Finding Common Ground Begins with Conversations. In companies seeking to undertake a culture change and positively impact their D&I, those reservations may be stronger and harder to overcome. September 11, 2020. Open-mindedness to all opinions within the workplace can cross-pollinate and create a self-sustaining culture of inclusiveness. In those cases, honor whether they want to engage in your questions or not. And setting an example to show that it’s OK to have a personal story can create an atmosphere where others feel free to share. To improve your knowledge and ability to engage in racial dialogue, I suggest Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race. Creating Brave Conversations About Diversity and Inclusion at Work Many employees have worked for companies that have a “check-the-box” safety program. Participants tell each other their stories and list their identifiers (similar to those used in My Fullest Name). Take my experience at Google in the summer of 2015, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. We have stopped all activities across the world and spent time adapting to a new reality. It may be a nickname and how they got it. How 2020 Accelerated Conversations on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The only way to address the challenges associated with racism, sexism, and other forms of injustice in the workplace is to be open to experiencing this discomfort in an honest and forthright way. Here are three ways and an advanced glossary to get off the starting blocks and have bigger, deeper and bolder conversations about diversity and identity. Imagine the bold, progressive community organization that is excited to advocate for new change and policies or … Indeed, in my work in talent and diversity at Google, Disney, and other large firms, I’ve found many leaders eager for actionable frameworks and advice to create more inclusive cultures. Here's how to handle conversations about race, racism, diversity and inclusion, even with very young children. To do this, leaders can adopt effective changes in their own approach by: Learning from others – Most companies have at least one leader or manager that employees seem to trust innately or have worked with someone like that in the past. Conversations about diversity don’t stop at hearing about someone’s personal identity. Share This Story. Creating Meaningful Conversations about Diversity Creating Meaningful Conversations about Diversity. How to have conversations about race About this toolkit Our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity. What percentage of your time is spent on addressing exclusion or microaggressions against you or others? At the core of inclusion is diversity. Why we need to talk about diversity in the workplace and how to start those conversations Diversity in the workplace is important and invaluable. Contributor: Jordan Bryan. As a leader you need to be careful in the words you use, but don’t let your fear replace your curiosity. This helps participants understand what they have endured and often reveals to the listeners issues they had not considered. Most often you will find that your employees will welcome feeling seen and valued. Poorly handled conversations can lead to misunderstandings and negative impacts on relationships and engagement in the organisation. Again, stories are important and leaders who honestly reveal their own experiences, vulnerabilities and growth will set the stage for employees to follow. It may be unintentional, but by keeping feedback positive, the tone is set that hard discussions, short rants, “letting off steam” and other modes of expression are fine and even expected. This is especially true when leaders come from marginalized groups themselves. For those who have been unduly bearing the burden of marginalization and exclusion, though, some questions may trigger deeply held emotions. This encourages reluctant employees that the efforts are sincere. In fact, many companies struggling with exactly those risks in their own D&I programs have reached a similar point in the curve for the same reasons. But these programs don’t start out with the intention of becoming “check-the-box”. Push yourself to communicate candidly about difficult topics. But if the risks of strict “operational” focus of the example above is true for fundamental issues such as employee safety, they are even more so for the vastly more complex issue of Diversity and Inclusion and their deep reliance upon culture. Don’t let fear hold you back from this full engagement. But there are many resources that can help you better understand the dynamics and the voices at play. Apologize and admit your mistakes and blindspots, express gratitude when someone corrects you, listen to those who have been injured or silenced, and commit to doing better. Any company seeking to modify and improve their culture by breaking down the one-way street must be ready for the “oncoming traffic” headed their way. If you want your team to stand up for inclusion, you need to stand up. When this happens, managers often realize they can’t progress D&I until they change or reshape the culture. The problem is that they don’t include the employees they seek to protect in the development of the initiative and therefore miss the kind of input and feedback that would genuinely help develop training the employees. The Office for Campus Diversity recently hosted a virtual Courageous Conversations session on April 7, 2020, a webinar entitled "Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Implications of the COVID-19 Response." Where sitting in groups close together and having couragous conversations about diversity is no longer feasible. Courageous conversations about diversity online. For HR and talent professionals, it's important that conversations about diversity, inclusion … Advice for leaders who are afraid of saying the wrong thing. Each person writes down the three identities they hold most dear and uses that as a description of their name. But it is critical that leaders not put this work on employees of color but rather be visible doing this work themselves. Overview This publication is designed to help facilitate discussion about diversity among youth and adults. They must be ready to accept them and perhaps incorporate other viewpoints learned from those stories into their own development and growth. To better understand the experience of women of color in the workplace in particular, see Minda Harts’s The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at The Table. Critical Conversations About Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Forward-thinking organizations have already created forums to bring diverse employees together to share their experiences and deepest concerns and fears in the hope that coalitions of understanding and support will result from these interventions. As a leader in today’s world, you are grappling with complex change on many levels while trying to understand human dynamics that can feel untranslatable, conflicting, and painful. Like diversity, inclusion is an outcome and often an actual experience of … And for a more general look at how to lead in an inclusive way, take up Dolly Chugh’s The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias. Poornima Vijayashanker: There’s been a lot of talk and debate around the topic of diversity and inclusion. But a few go a long way. Brave conversations are difficult but not impossible. To reach that stage, companies must acknowledge and be willing to admit several realities required for brave conversations: Brave conversations are difficult to have – Let’s face it, one reason structures are often the default in many initiatives is because they are easy. Educate yourself on the issues women, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, religious minorities, and other marginalized groups face, and the compounding effects of intersectional identities. Genuine inquiry can promote trusting relationships and a safe, respectful, and supportive work environment even in times of complex change. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School. While 27 percent of chief diversity officers find themselves still having to make the case for diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace, the good news is that the majority of top leaders already understand how critical these efforts are. (I focus on race in these recommendations because I find it to be the most challenging topic for leaders to address — and that it’s often the root cause of other abuses of power in the workplace.) Do something? Everyone agrees that this Black Lives Matter moment requires courageous conversations if our workplaces are to realize significant change. Who I am as a an Indigenous, queer artist is what I convey in my photos, Strong, resilient, and ever-changing. Learning to speak up about diversity is uncomfortable — but it’s critical for leaders who want to build inclusive workplaces. Story by. Acknowledge difficult reveals – The pensive nature that comes with holding in feelings and opinions is difficult for many employees to release. Situation #2: Inclusion and Diversity, No Equity #powerstruggle. Whether it’s launching team conversations about white fragility, holding all-hands meetings calling out racially charged incidents when they happen, or introducing yourself with your pronouns, you can send a powerful message as an ally in a position of power and influence when you’re the one who takes up the work. A healthy and vibrant company culture can’t exist without engaged employees. Five to Nine helps create the spaces where brave and honest conversations can happen. To jump start the “hands-on” approach to having brave conversations, there are effective activities that can be used to get things moving. Most are undertaken in good faith to protect liability and ensure worker safety. But again and again I find one thing plaguing their attempts: fear. Or, it may be an ethnic origin, or cultural identity. Taking the time to understand the cultural background of the employees will make having brave conversations easier. I’ve led inclusion strategy and learning discussions at startups after which founders express dismay that their leadership teams did not participate more actively. Bravery is defined as “the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty”. Posted on. Your actions as a leader are doubly powerful. This doesn’t mean tasking others with achieving your own goals: “How do we move the needle on our diversity and inclusion gaps?” Instead, seek to understand what challenges your employees face every day, especially any practices and behaviors that are causing them pain. Show courage not just in what you ask but in how you listen. 5 tips for productive conversations about diversity. Editorial Services. Some of the most brilliant ideas, breakthroughs and developments of the past decade (or more) have incubated in culturally diverse workplaces. And in doing so it will change the culture, link it to D&I and ensure that those conversations continue going forward to move from an operationalized D&I structure to one where brave conversations are not dreaded but valued. But in today’s hyper-sensitive workplace, many subjects have been rendered taboo for discussion through the media to the point that employers are reluctant to go down certain paths for fear of veering into one of those subjects. And if the culture doesn’t allow integration, then many D&I programs will wither and become, at best, another “check-the-box” program that excluding those it was designed to serve. I am…But I am Not – This activity is an effective way to start a brave conversational path. By admitting the effectiveness and seeking to learn or emulate that leader, a manager can show they are willing to learn new ways of breaking down barriers. These leaders are so terrified about messing up and saying the wrong thing to all their stakeholders —employees, board members, funders, clients, customers — or the wider world via social media — that they’re paralyzed into inaction. Why we might sometimes choose not to speak up about diversity issues, and why sometimes it’s worth the effort. While it feels like these tactics set the tone for “informed” and “balanced” conversations, these tactics can easily invalidate the experiences of others. And engaged employees aren’t possible without having brave conversations. Diversity and inclusion is a challenging topic to discuss—but that doesn’t mean that every discussion needs to leave someone agitated. Should they say something? 2. Conversations about diversity in higher education and advancement can be challenging. In others, eye contact with a parent is considered disrespectful. They needed encouragement, permission, and advice before they could do the work of inclusive leadership. At the end of the day, truly functional Diversity and Inclusion can’t exist without a healthy and vibrant company culture. Diversity is discussed in a broad sense in Following through, staying true to goals set after the conversation and establishing safe ground for the employees to express themselves without fear of retribution and with a feeling that their story moved the needle in the development of the process are vital. No matter how much the industry focuses on diversity and inclusion, some people still get uncomfortable talking about it. It reinforces that the sharing of stories really is sharing and not a reflexive jump to top-down “instruction” or one of guiding employees to a predetermined point of view. There's in-baked beliefs from society, there's a lot of emotions that come up. Whose voice or what perspective is missing from this conversation? They are usually top-down initiatives implemented by HR at the request of top execs. But leaders should be aware of the impact they can have by taking the first step. To practice diversity and inclusion, it is important that our teams understand the people within the organizations that live, look, and act differently from them. The goal is to have the person express who they are and how they arrived at that description. Once stories are shared, others will be more comfortable in opening up about their own experiences. Suspend your judgement, reduce your instinct to respond reactively, and take time to deeply reflect on what your people are telling you. Some people feel as if their thoughts and experiences don’t belong in the conversation, some people don’t want to say the wrong thing, and some just don’t know where to start. How could they, as white leaders, speak about anything related to the Black experience without offending anyone? But Ishna Hall doesn’t like to say that those discussions are tough—she calls them courageous. To belong to the community? Allowing employees to fill those gaps creates an environment where they understand they truly are part of the conversation. There's a moral component about people wanting to be good people. Conversations about race are difficult and challenging because they are deeply emotional and trigger strongly held beliefs about identity and fairness. It must be in an environment where everyone is comfortable and where everyone feels like they belong. Request a demo today. Goals should include improving perspectives through activities, creating awareness by being open to difficult but informative stories that inform and shape leaders perspective of their employees and by choosing the hard path of having these difficult conversations. Having “operationalized” the process, they are beginning to realize that they have left out an important part of the equation and are seeking ways to correct it. But often, the tone is set by a leader that stifles or represses feedback. In the Diversity Committee, I’ve found others who believe in the same goal and want to create a safe space for these things to take place. For an exploration of identity, gender and race, read Jodi Patterson’s The Bold World. What are the biggest barriers to your success and what role can I play in helping to remove them? All rights reserved. Ask questions like: If you’re afraid of making a vocabulary blunder — using the wrong terminology for someone’s race, for example, or misgendering people — just ask about their pronouns or what role race plays in how they experience the workplace. These conversations are emotional and their hard. But that’s okay. Sitting through countless videos and retaining little of what is shown or taking easy to answer exams and listening to presentations are hallmarks of such programs. NORWALK — A survey on equity and education in Norwalk showed the school community and staff like diversity, but aren’t necessarily ready to have uncomfortable conversations about race and bias.. About 950 people answered the bulk of questions in a survey addressing their comfort with diversity, said Temple University associate professor Eddie Fergus when presenting the findings to … The reality on the ground is that D&I programs can’t excel beyond the operationalized structure until they are an intricate part of that culture. Do you feel safe enough to take risks at work? This “scaling” effort, while more difficult and time consuming than “check-the-box” thinking, establishes firm ground for building true inclusion as employees feel that their opinion is not only heard, but valued and useful as well. Once the conversation is had and their opinion truly included or factored into future decision making, the acknowledgement will allow them to be more open to future participation. For those seeking to improve their Diversity and Inclusion, integration with corporate culture is an imperative. Tone is important – Stories, and the tone they set, are extremely important in having difficult and brave conversations. Over time, and because of the top-down focus of the initiative, the program becomes less about safety and more about ensuring that employees watch videos, take tests, record attendance and make sure placards and warning signs are where they are supposed to be. Listening to other viewpoints – Many leaders work alongside their staff for years without truly learning what drives and motivates them. I bring portraits to life, I enjoy directing moments, having conversations with people and … Sitting through countless videos and retaining little of what is shown or taking easy to answer exams and listening to presentations are hallmarks of such programs. Again, I teach on this all the time and these conversations never get easier, diversity and bias. The goal is to open the conversation on the more difficult aspects of what they have experienced after contextually framing it within the experience of their cherished identity. How can I help amplify your voice and that of other underrepresented voices. There are many books on these topics and the best entry point depends in part on your own experiences. In addition to standing up for others yourself, you signal to others that it is also safe for them to do so. If you grow a flower in a pot indoors, it may have to be replanted the next year to grow. The Covid-19 crisis has proven a tremendous challenge for very many including the Human Library. Accept that you are never going to be perfect. Key mistakes to avoid to promote diversity equity and inclusion in the workplace amid a changing climate. But that same flower outside lends itself to cross-pollination from bees, insects and birds that can foster a self-sustaining flower field that grows, changes and renews itself year after year. Copyright © 2020 Harvard Business School Publishing. As one of our first initiatives, we’re holding a town hall for XYPN members on how to have effective conversations on sensitive subjects like diversity. For while most companies can get the numbers right because they fit into a comfortable “operationalized” structure, it is the Inclusion part that bumps into cultural reality. For example, in some cultures, parents want their child to look at them when they are speaking to them. More and more, companies are realizing that the missing piece of the puzzle is culture. Learning to speak up about diversity is uncomfortable — but it’s critical for leaders who want to build inclusive workplaces. Several of my white manager-level colleagues approached me to express their anxiety about how to effectively engage with their employees of color about the protests. These activities can include things such as: My Fullest Name – This activity is great for groups who aren’t familiar with one another. Pivoting to Diversity of Thought: expecting someone to represent their concerns in relation to “diversity of thought” rather than accepting that diversity in representation is enough. Leaders must not only be willing to hear their employee’s stories and provide an environment where the are comfortable talking about them. Quite the opposite; employee feedback, concerns and examples of what they face are not only part of the discussion, but part of the building process required to change that culture. Productive, eye-opening and fascinating conversations can come from talking about the world around us. Audio. There is no playbook for standing face-to-face with inequity, injustice, and oppression while running a business or organization. Stepping into another perspective in life is growth in my mind. How values-guided conversations can promote healing. Acknowledging those reveals and restating them for understanding is critical for employees to develop a true sense of belonging. Being open-minded – Beyond just hearing other viewpoints, a leader should be open-minded to the value of employee input. curricula that are inclusive of diversity education training is important. It starts with you. Diversity is clearly front and centre in many people's minds. Today’s successful businesses are weaving diversity, inclusion, and belonging into their culture, and they’re not shying away from the difficult conversations that may arise with an open dialog. Here’s what I tell leaders who are afraid of taking a misstep when trying to solve for diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplaces. In most cases, that leader is already utilizing most of the strategies above. Starting conversations about inclusion and diversity is how we're changing our community for the better. Inclusion means that people with marginalized identities feel as if they: genuinely belong, are valued and relied upon, empowered and ultimately matter. Once they are done, they then list stereotypes they have heard over the years about the identities they have listed. So too should the leader respect silence and pauses and not jump to fill the gap. The only path through this is honesty. Black employees led walkouts to shine a light on the marginalization and structural inequities they faced in the workplace. Upcoming Conversations: Past Conversations: To create awareness about diversity issues, we held a series of community conversations In 2016: Photography Exhibit: Stereotypes: A Conscious Look at Race, Faith, Gender and Orientation Identity in Arlington and "Americanah" Unconscious Bias Stories of Stigmas Being An Active Bystander In 2013-2014: We are Many Races… For a diverse workforce to feel included and heard, you have to begin by facilitating conversations that cultivate understanding. When they don’t, they lose their teams’ trust and belief in their willingness to lead fairly — and they also set a poor example. To do so, companies can set goals to achieve this. Diversity and Inclusion: How To Navigate Conversations About Diversity And Inclusion in Tech Transcript. Serena Walker Jean ’21 is finding her space and creating safe places for others. Christa Neu. Stepping out of your comfort zone to speak on issues surrounding diversity is a daunting task. You can also offer another opportunity to speak if they don’t want to do so in the moment. Things to do/consider when holding conversations about race When holding conversations about race in the workplace, a skilled facilitator will increase the likelihood of open conversations and experience-sharing. Creating practical tools and skill-based frameworks is important for helping employees feel that including race in conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion is do-able. We need to prepare youth (and people of all ages) to function and succeed in a diverse society and world. A few things to remember: Don't shush or shut them down if they mention race. Would I look over messages they were drafting for their teams before they sent them? 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