Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity in the Workplace
A couple of weeks ago, more than fifty Greene team members attended the three-day Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Virtual Conference through the Raleigh Chamber. This marked the third annual conference for the Triangle DEI Alliance and, once again, it defined itself as one of the most impactful conferences of any type of conference we attend. Greene Team Members learned incredibly valuable lessons during this conference that will shape the way we view, discuss, and address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity in the workplace and beyond. Below are just a few key takeaways from this conference.
Creating a Movement, Not a Moment
One of the most profound questions we have had to ask ourselves over the past few months is: How do we sustain a movement that lasts, rather than creating a trending moment that will fade? Many people are considering this question, not only from a personal standpoint, but also professional. Most initiatives that create lasting change require tough work and will not happen overnight. As individuals and as organizations, we are each responsible for committing to do the tough work. One Greene Team Member put it simply: “Commit to being kind, [do] the right thing, and [lead] by example. Through doing so, we learn, grow, and continuously improve.” Simply saying, “Black Lives Matter,” cannot be the end of our work. There needs to be corresponding action and attention to deliverables that ensure an ongoing focus. As Candi Castleberry-Singleton, VP of Diversity Partnership, Strategy, and Engagement at Twitter shared, “Each of us needs to be a champion of dignity and respect.”
Getting Past the Fear of Being Misunderstood
There is no doubt that conversations about racial injustice and systemic racism have increasingly arisen in day-to-day conversations. Oftentimes, it can feel intimidating to take part in the conversation due to fear of saying the wrong thing or appearing uneducated. The fear of being misunderstood in these conversations is enough to deter people from having important discussions at all. How do we, as coworkers and friends, create safe spaces that foster healthy DEI conversations? It is important to remember that we are all on a journey of unlearning biases and understanding systemic racism. We all know that words do matter; however, we can show one another understanding by listening to a person’s tone and accepting their intent. This grace allows for open conversations, and in those conversations, we can teach with kindness and learn with compassion. These actions can eliminate the fear of being misunderstood and encourage continuous dialogue. Donald Thompson put it best when he said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Not only is this a great mantra of which to hold ourselves, but it is also an important reminder for everyone to hold others to a standard of grace, not perfection, in doing this much needed DEI work.
The Platinum Rule
We’ve all heard the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” What if we flipped this sentence and changed the focus from *me* to *you*? Candi Castleberry-Singleton challenged everyone to, “treat others the way THEY want to be treated.” When we adopt this mindset, we can take ourselves out of the situation and consider the wants and needs of those around us. A few ways this may arise in your workplace are: using correct identifying pronouns when addressing others, assuming the best of your co-workers, and asking questions with the intent of understanding. Another idea shared is to pay attention during your next meeting on how much time is spent validating your own opinions versus advocating for others. Candi reminded us it is important to remember that, as humans, “Our behavior is not organically inclusive.” Because of that instinct in us, we must be continuously and consciously committed to change. A suitable place to start is with this 30 Tips of Dignity & Respect video shared by Candi.
At the end of the day, it is more important to be known for being kind, inclusive, and welcoming than to be known for being right and hurting people in the process. All humans deserve to feel known and loved and cared for. As employers and employees, we have the unique opportunity to spend our work time with people whom our lives may not have otherwise intersected. Use that time to be compassionate, invest in people, listen without judgement, and always treat others the way they want to be treated.
We thank the Chamber again for providing such an impactful conference with so many great learning and activation opportunities. We left the conference energized and ready to put our knowledge into practice.