To Unify, We Must Acknowledge Our Differences

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It’s Black History Month, and while I love a good Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, this is a good time to look a little deeper to our commitment and connection with diverse communities.

One doesn’t have to look too far or too hard in our industry to hear someone who proclaims, at the first hint of a conversation about race, or recognition of nonwhite history, that they are not racist and that focusing on our differences divides us rather than uniting us. However, I’d argue the opposite, and a pair of articles from CIO Magazine last November, on what companies get wrong in their diversity best practices, explains very well why.

“‘Colorblindness’ — a practice in which racial identity is avoided — used to be an acceptable approach not only to diversity initiatives but how the success of a D&I initiative was measured. The reality is that ‘colorblindness’ can actually work against diversity and inclusion by ignoring differences and failing to take into account how perceptions, thoughts and experiences are shaped by identity.”

What this means is that, yes, it’s good that you don’t actively discriminate against or treat someone differently based on the color of their skin, but that isn’t enough.

“When you embrace and celebrate differences, you open up a better dialogue and that means you can get better results, better engagement and better morale from your teams.”

One of the biggest factors in diversity and inclusion in the workplace is not assuming senior management knows what minority employees think, prioritize, want or need. Building relationships with, and listening to, diverse and minority employees can go a long way for the committed senior manager.

Below are some of our key takeaways from the articles but make sure to give both a read for more detail:

  1. Listen. “Make the effort to learn about the concerns and the barriers and obstacles minorities are facing. Educate yourself. Learn how to speak civilly and really listen.” — LaFawn Davis, Twilio
  2. Empathize. “If someone approaches you with a concern, try not to get defensive…I always try to encourage this because I think if I can help someone to understand what it’s like to be a black woman in America, then when they’re faced with a situation, they can think, ‘Oh, right, I remember what Tarsha said. She’s my friend, she’s my colleague, I can see what she was telling me.’ And that can help them in other interactions.” — Tarsha McCormick, ThoughtWorks
  3. Think broadly. “A lot of companies focus globally on gender. But what we’ve learned, and what research shows, is that diversity programs typically give the advantage to white women.” — LaFawn Davis

What is your company or organization doing to celebrate Black History Month or to celebrate diversity? We would love to hear about it! Share on our Facebook page or reply to this email.

Respectfully,

Kristin Messerli
Managing Editor

 

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Leadership Quote:

 

“If you are committed to creating value and if you aren’t afraid of hard times; obstacles become utterly unimportant. A nuisance perhaps; but with no real power. The world respects creation; people will get out of your way.”

 

– Candice Carpenter (CEO of Fullbridge)

 

 

Health Tip:

 

Have fun! Laughter is the best medicine. Here’s how it works:

  • Fun boosts energy. Stress can literally suck the life out of you!
  • Fun increases resistance to disease.
  • Fun releases endorphins, which have been shown to relieve pain.
  • Fun increases serotonin levels, which regulates sleep patterns & mood.
  • Fun improves memory and concentration.

 

 

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