Diversity is great, but it means nothing without INCLUSION.
I mentioned in my last email that I did an inclusivity training recently. It was for managers, directors, and VPs at a company, and it went phenomenally.
I’ll tell you why it went so well…
Why do companies even have these trainings? Easy. We all need to feel like we belong. It’s in our human nature. Leadership wants their teams to feel included, so they are engaged and productive.
So, my training explains unconscious bias and a deeper understanding of how we operate as humans. All of us (no matter who we are, or where we are from, or what we look like) are tribal in nature and surround ourselves with people who are similar to us. The way our brains operate makes us all similar.
Similarity makes us feel comfortable.
Learning this is great and helpful for leaders and teams, but 101 level psychology won’t make the difference either…
We need to hear what makes us different.
Eventually we got to a conversation about microaggressions, and subtle behaviors and actions that make people feel like they don’t belong, and if not handled, is why people quit.
This conversation sparked an amazing share from the black woman in the corner. She shared two stories:
First she spoke about how when she is at one of the stores she manages (she is regional manager), if someone has a complaint, and she comes to address it, sometimes the patron says, “I’d like to speak to the manager.” She says, “I’m the manager.” The patron responds, “Then I’d like to speak with your manager.” She says, “The North American VP is too busy to come here right now, but how can I help?”
And it is not just men who can’t believe a woman is the manager. Women ask this question of her constantly because we all have been subconsciously trained to think a man is the manager…
Then she spoke about how in another of the company’s stores, two black men walked in. The white manager of that store, her direct report said, “Uh oh. Look at these two who just walked in…” Obviously, this was shocking to her and on top of that, one of the men was her boyfriend coming to see her. She couldn’t even feel the anger or sadness of the comment because she had to mentally process it. Then she shared that this wasn’t a one-time thing but that this happens to her and her black friends and family. ALL. THE. TIME.
You could hear a pin drop.
What was a predominantly white male room had now internalized and drank up the value of inclusion. Hearing one of their counterpart’s stories allowed for them to feel her pain.
What was “head” conversation became a “heart” conversation.
They all got it.
Although it was sad to see and hear, it was this beautiful and connected moment for all the participants.
Do you all have inclusion conversations at your work or at your companies? How does it go? I’d be curious to hear your stories and experiences.