Inclusion Ideas Week 3: Lifelong Allies and Alliances for Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) needs lifelong allies and alliances.

Just contemplating

The media courted us with images and stories of social injustice last year, and we as allies said a collective and passionate “I do.” We stood up to take on oppressive systems and make our workplaces and our society inclusive and equitable.

Time has passed, and we’ve experienced some highs and lows. We are facing some realities. It’s what we do outside of the view of the camera, it’s what we do after the protest is over, and it’s what we do day to day to bake our corporate statements into our corporate culture that determine the destinations on our D&I journey. Saying “I do” was an easy beginning, the daily work is layered, complex, and grinding. There is no miracle cure on the horizon. Diversity and inclusion is a difficult and heavy lift!

Inquiring Minds want to know. Minorities and traditionally excluded groups, want to know if we are in it for the long haul. They have long suffered exclusion, and although they’ve made progress, the long term commitment of allies is an issue.

Allies have the option of opting out when circumstances become too challenging, uncomfortable, and inconvenient for their liking. Think of Missy betrayal of Kizzy in Alex Haley’s “Roots”. Fair-weathered alliances and allies pose a risk to the success of D&I .

The key to long term commitment is to have a strong purpose, a “Powerful Why.” A “Powerful Why” endures and survives challenges. Allies must get clear on our “Why” —why we believe in inclusion and ensure the belief is strong enough to sustain us on this journey. Diversity and Inclusion needs committed allies.

Like marriage, D&I fairs better when there is a long term commitment defined more by day to day routine than Hallmark moments. Allies, our hearts must be in it and our hands and feet must be about the work through the good times and bad for our life times. Let’s be lifelong allies and build lifelong alliances for diversity and inclusion.

P.S.: As an African American woman, my learned and lived experiences and my heart confirm that ALL women, men, and children are endowed with inalienable rights, and every woman, man, and child has a responsibility to ensure each other those protections and privileges of those rights. Therefore, I, as an African American woman and an ally for other diverse identities, must work for inclusion wherever I am with whatever resources I have during my lifetime.

Recommended Resources: The Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership

Roots is available on HBO and the 2016 Root Reboot is available on other sources. Kerra Bolton’s How to Help Your Black Friends Survive Watching the Roots Reboot is helpful aid.

Inspiring Minds With Inclusion Ideas

Inclusion Idea Week 2: Talk Shop

Inspiring Minds Idea

With all the hype around diversity and inclusion, we are now noticing and hopefully having more conversations with work colleagues of color and colleagues from underrepresented groups. This week make sure you engage include diverse colleagues in conversations other than workplace diversity. Talk shop.

Talking shop is a mutual opportunity to learn how each other are handling the new work challenges.

Here are a few conversation ideas:

Share what you are working on and ask what they are working on.

Email a work related article that you read, highlight a thought or two and ask what they think.

Ask their opinion on a work proposal.

Appreciating the whole being of a person means seeing their race, ethnicity, and other diverse identities, as well as their work skills and talents. Conversing and listening about work is one way to do that.

By getting to know the work and work ideas of diverse colleagues, we create opportunities. These opportunities challenge our stereotypes of who knows what and should be in what positions. These opportunities prepare us for more inclusive mentorships, sponsorships, and collaborations.

As individuals by talking shop to those of other races, genders, ages, and abilities, we help to build a more inclusive workplace.

This week’s Recommended Resource:

How to find the person who can help you get ahead at work | Carla Harris

The Inclusion Ideas for Everyday Inclusionists

Everyday Inclusionist Zenell

My intention is to make inclusion an everyday personal habit for me and to help others do the same. I am an Everyday Inclusionist, and I want to share with you an Inclusion Idea each week.

For the rest of 2021, each Sunday I will post a blog sharing a simple, everyday way to help us not just talk about inclusion but to be about the work of inclusion. It’s to help us see inclusion at the individual level and to not overlook the small personal acts of inclusion. I’ll end each blog with a quote or recommended resource.

I want you to comment on the idea, suggest other tips and ideas, and share the blog. I want to hear about you and your practice of Everyday Inclusion.

So here we go….

May 2, 2021

Inspiring Minds With Inclusion Ideas

Inclusion Idea for the Week: Just say “Hi.”

In a virtual meeting this week, arrive early, turn your camera on, smile, and greet each say teammate by name as they arrive. At some point during the meeting, send individual chat messages with a greeting as well.

If your team is diverse, this means you will acknowledge and greet people who are visibly from different races, gender, or generations.

Saying “hi” may be easy for many people. However, for them, it’s not about the level of effort but about their consistency in reaching out to teammates outside their existing circle of familiar acquaintances.

For those like me who find this a little challenging here are three greeting and chat starters:

“Hey John, how was your weekend?”

“How do you like remote meetings, Sam?”

“Hey, just checking in to say “hi Wanda.” Have a great Monday!”

It is expected decorum and etiquette for the leader to greet everyone and acknowledge their presence at meetings. It is welcoming gesture and sets the tone that encourages participation and engagement. And teammates can follow this etiquette rule as well.

By taking the time to say “hi” to our teammates, we are acknowledging and showing our regard for their presence, and we are developing a habit that helps build a foundation for workplace inclusion.

Comments, thoughts, ideas? I can’t wait to hear from you.

Recommended Resource: Malcolm Gladwell ‘s “Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know”

What’s An Ally To Do: Embracing Diversity Months

Allyship is challenging and difficult. But isn’t the popular diversity training statement “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”?

As an ally, you want to be respectful, inclusive, and promote diversity. You will need all sorts of tools to help from the most recent research and data and the skills to know when and how to address micro-aggressions made in your presence.

I want to collect thoughts that help allies to better understand diversity and inclusion and to have conversations with friends and colleagues who are open to listening about diversity but haven’t yet identified as allies. I want to help allies navigate the day to day. Therefore, in my blogs under the title “What’s an Ally To Do?”, allies will find short writings on specific topics for those purposes.

Embracing Diversity Months

The top diversity hashtags and topics in February and March are Black History Month and Women’s History Month. In fact, almost every month there is a celebration of a diverse group. In our inaugural “What’s an Ally To Do?” blog, let’s discuss embracing diversity months.

Inevitably, someone will imply that Black History Month is for Blacks only or identify a roster of only women to send to the Women in Leadership Symposium. Are they well-intentioned? Maybe. But the impacts are harmful at worst and neutral at best to promoting diversity and inclusion.

An Ally’s embrace is important. Allies should ask a member of the identity group the proper decorum to ensure they are respectful. (Google can be consulted as a last resort.)

Allies can help by understanding that Black History, Women History, Hispanic History, and any history that acknowledges the accomplishments of minorities and marginalized groups is American History. Collectively, diversity months are a calling for national recognition that the achievements of these Americans contributed to greatness of the United States. They are an affirmation of our nation’s diversity, a call for inclusion, and an opportunity for every American to extend a welcoming embrace.

A welcoming embrace is important, and allies should consult a member of the identity group for the proper decorum to determine what that embrace should be. Allies should only consult Google as a last resort.

As a Black woman, in March, I want my allies to learn more about the contributions of Black women and women of color. Then I want them to post, like, share, tweet, and most importantly talk about them in workplace. I want to normalize the image and perception that Black women and women of color are positive achievers. That’s what a Women’s History embrace feels like for me.

Other women may have other ways for allies to embrace Women’s History Month. It is recommended that the allies ask the women they interact with at home and work on daily basis how they can support Women’s History Month. That’s where the ally can an immediate and visible impact.

Embracing diversity month celebrations is what an ally can do.


Embracing Inclusion

Embracing Inclusion is the EI (Emotional Intelligence) of Leadership for 2021. It consists of three principles.

1. Learn.

2. Practice.

3. Share.

How do we bring these principles together?

1. We must learn about others. We must learn who they are and what are their experiences.

2. We must practice appreciation for who they are. We do not need them to assimilate and or ask they erase their identity. We must practice respect for their otherness and create a space that is large enough to welcome the existence of our differences. We must honor human equality of all and protect the basic alienable rights of all. We practice coexistence, collaboration, and community.

3. We must share what we learn and what we practice. Our lessons are for our individual growth but for our common growth as well.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King, Jr.