Week 13 Inclusion Idea: Conversation Opportunities

How many times did diversity topics come up in your conversations this week? Were there missed opportunities?

On Tuesday, July 22 I received a email from an organization with the subject line “Eid Al-Adha Mubarak”. The text read “ May your day be full of happiness and love.” I supported a day filled with happiness and love, but it would be meaningless to send felicitations and not have some understanding of the holiday being celebrate or observed. I reached out to a Muslim friend to find out more about the observation.

This week, I spoke with a friend who had discovered Netflix series “Pose” and another who reminded me that “Never Have I ever” had begun a second season, giving us the opportunity to acknowledge and express appreciation that the LBGTQ+ and Indian communities were being represented in the media. Media created a window in which we could peek into the lives of others and appreciate how we were different and alike.

A Thursday early evening phone call with an older relative was the highlight of the week. Her cageyness about her whereabouts trigged my implicit bias. Age equaled fragility, right? And, my responsibility was to protect “My Old People”?

I slowed down my runaway thoughts and response and checked myself. I realized that fragility was not a fact with this person and my protection probably felt like smothering and outright disrespect. I fought the desire to control and went with curiosity—listening and asking questions. She was safe and okay and would call me later with an updated status. Did I like it? No, but I could live with it. “My Old People” are older adults who are able and capable of taking care of themselves and will invite my assistance —not my meddling— when they need it. They are related to me. I do not own them or their free will.

Add to the topic and conversation list: promoting neurodiversity to increase innovation when strategic planning, advocating for diversity and representation in the judiciary, and reviewing materials for a teen leadership academy session on generational diversity and intersectionality. In this respect, my week was not unusual. Opportunities to routinely discuss diversity topics are plentiful.

We all have many opportunities to talk about diversity and to promote it along with equity and inclusion.

Sometimes I am the learner. Eid Al-Adha is referred to as the major Muslim holiday. It marks the culmination of the pilgrimage to Mecca and commemorates the willingness of Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son in his devotion to GOD.

Sometimes I am teacher. Neurodiversity is acknowledging people think differently and there is a value of bringing that variety together to generate innovation.

Both the student and teacher experiences are rewarding. And when I self-check and correct like I did on the age bias, I am reminded that diversity work is a continuing process.

This week be aware and take advantages of the conversation opportunities.

Be on the lookout and take advantage of conversation opportunities

Week 12 Inclusion Idea: Dealing With Stereotypes

Inclusion Idea Week 12

I am a stereotypical African-American middle aged, Christian, menopausal, urban born and raised, woman with 4C hair named Zenell.

Any broader stereotypical description does not fit as well. In fact, they are uncomfortable as shoes that are too big. Who I really am gets lost in them. Who I am is the intersectionality of all of my identities. And, I keep acquiring identities. Most recently, my marital status changed to widow. That quick and unexpected change has definitely transformed me and added another layer of complexity to who I am.

I am sure I am not the only one who does not want to get trapped into a world of stereotypes. Shoes that are too big hurt!!

Unstereotypical Court Executive at the Michigan Supreme Court

A stereotype is our elementary beginning point to understanding someone from another identity. We must realize that a stereotype is a monolith that does not fully apply to any individual of that identity. When a person does not fit the stereotype, do not think that person is an exception or a special kind of Black person, Gay person etc. Call your self back in and remember each person is a intersection and layering of identities and we need to get to know them at that level.

Check out: https://youtu.be/WYerKidQGcc

Week 11 Inclusion Idea: Self-care

“The sister wonders if the brother knows what Harriet Tubman did between taking souls to the Promised Land?” Angela Bassett’s character, Betty Shabazz asks upon meeting the up and coming Malcolm X.

“What?” says Malcolm.

“She ate.”

Self-care is so important for those who are training, teaching, and guiding others. DEI work can be all encompassing. It is important to eat, rest, and self-care. You will need your strength.

Today, I am taking my own advice and resting. Have a restful day.


Week 10 Idea for Inclusion: National Crown Day

“Are you wearing your hair like that?”

My mother is the first to question my natural hairstyles, raising an eyebrow in disapproval.

My hair is temperamental. It does not obey any of the instructions printed on the back of the products that promise to lock in curls and control fizz.

I have shrinkage that make people question if I decided to sport a TWA (teenie weenie afro) for the summer.

A woman’s hair is her a crown, but as a Black woman it has felt as if it were a crown of thorns as I wrestled to meet the expected professional coif standards promulgated by those of other genders and races since high school.

I jumped up and down embracing liberation when India Arie sang “I Am Not My Hair.” I haven’t looked back and at this stage, I can even endure my mother’s raised eyebrow. I shift my headsets, adjust my lighting and few strands, and Zoom in and out meetings.

National Crown Day was July 3rd, marking the one-year anniversary of The CROWN Act being signed into law in California. The Crown Act calls for the solidarity and acknowledging human rights of Black women, men, and children to wear their natural hair boldly, and proudly, without the fear of being discriminated against in school or the workplace.

To all my Black families and friends sporting natural styles, do you! Embrace your natural crown, share the love, and Happy Crown Day!

Week 9 Inclusion Idea: What a Diverse Candidate Wants

Photo Credit: WordPress Library

As we are emerging from the pandemic, many organizations find they need to hire personnel. They want a diverse talent pool and want to know how to track diverse talents. There are no pat answers, but here are few thoughts to consider.

A diverse candidate WANTS:

1. An attractive starting salary and bonus.

2. Student loan repayment benefits.

3. Pay equity.

4. Flex-time.

5. Remote work opportunities.

6. Generous leave time. Examples: family leave for births and deaths, sabbaticals, and time of for bar prep.

7. Meaningful Mentorship.

8. Sponsorship.

9. Access to prime assignments, and important leaders.

10. Transparency in work expectations and the pathway for promotions and raises. Those need to be rooted in objectivity.

11. Inclusion in networking and social opportunities.

12. To be seen as a diverse person AND as an individual. Take the effort and time in getting to know the person.

13. A commitment to recruit, hire, promote, and retain diverse talent.

14. Support in joining and being involved in mainstream and diverse affinity professional associations. Simultaneous memberships in National Bar Association, Woman Lawyers Association, Black Women Lawyers Association, and the American Bar is not unusual.

15. Everyday inclusion: not to be overlooked, taken for granted, stereotyped, misgendered, or tokenized.

16. Employee resource groups. Alternatively an understanding that minorities and underrepresented group members may come together based on their shared identity and life/work experiences and it’s okay. (Yes, it’s okay for the two Black employees to go to lunch together.)

17. A robust and ongoing training and awareness program on diversity which includes diverse topics and presenters.

18. A facility design and decor that promote inclusion. Start with your artwork, bathrooms, and coffee/comfort (“abc’s”) and think of them as employee experiences. Do they project a message of inclusion?

19. Clear harassment and discrimination policies that are followed.

The wants help to promote psychological safety, bringing one’s whole self to work, employee engagement and satisfaction, and belonging for the candidate.

Photo Credit: WordPress Library

A diverse candidate DOES NOT WANT:

1. To be the in-house expert on diversity, unless hired for that role.

2. To be the sole employee from their diverse background.

3. To be appointed as The Face of diversity and called upon whenever the organization needs to prove its diversity.

4. To be hired only because of their diverse identity. Your organization has to make it clear that the person was hired for knowledge, skills, and talents. Otherwise, the candidate will be seen and treated as less than equal.

5. To be treated special and different than others.

The candidate’s goal is to be welcomed, included, respected, and belong.

For those who like lists and want to check things off, remember diversity is not a checklist item. The diverse candidate’s want list is general. It does not delve into what certain races, ages and other identities want and find most important. It does not represent the wants of any specific individual. It is the beginning, a good practical start in gaining insight to what a diverse candidate wants as your organization seeks to build a diverse and engaged talent pool.

Additional Resource: Want More Diverse Candidates? Here’s How To Improve Your Recruiting Strategy https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/08/26/want-more-diverse-candidates-heres-how-to-improve-your-recruiting-strategy/