Tag Archives: Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion

Trends and Challenges: Systemic Diversity Panel

What’s Next for Inclusion?

Systemic Diversity Panels share ideas, articles, research and resources that reinforce our quest for diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice. The Systemic Diversity and Inclusion Linked group allow participants to share their work and encourage them to do so in a manner that is consistent with the group’s vision for peace, equity and social justice for all.

This group is committed to sharing ideas on effective policies and practices to eradicate misconceptions and biases in diverse workplaces, and thus promote positive work environments for all people. We also profile members and their work that aligns with our  vision. See interviews at Systemic Diversity and inclusion Group.

Deborah LevineDeborah Levine (Moderator)

Award-winning Author (14 books), including Un-Bias Guide for Leaders and Religious Diversity at Work | Speaker/Trainer & Coach | Founder/Editor: American Diversity Report |
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA (See her Bio)

Joseph NwoyeJoseph Nwoye, Ed.D (Partner)

Diversity & Inclusion Consultant with Unique Ability to Address Unconscious Bias, Inclusive Leadership @ Work & Beyond | Author of three books, including the most recent, Cultivating a Belief System for All (See his latest interview)
Montgomery Village, Maryland, USA

Colonel ReginaldColonel Reginald Hairston

Proven Senior Level Leader | Multiple Years Experience Setting Strategic Direction and Managing Change | Innovator | Author of Simple Man’s Leadership Guide
Chesapeake, Virginia, USA

AtenaAtena Hensch

Inclusive Diversity and belonging Specialist | Unconscious Bias | Gender | Cultural Intelligence | Certified Trainer
Geneva Area, Switzerland

 

LouiseLouise Duffield

VP @GatedTalent | SEO | Executive Search | Social Media | Branding | LinkedIn Optimization | LinkedIn Profile Writer
United Kingdom

What Makes Someone Latinx? – by Susana Rinderle and Addy Chulef

It’s More Than Just DNA

Camila, a successful professional, grew up in Buenos Aires with an Argentinian mom and a Guatemalan dad. Her native language is Spanish, and she dances tango and sips yerba mate.

But when asked about her cultural identity, “Latina” is not her first answer. “Because my grandparents are European Jews who migrated to South America and I grew up celebrating Jewish traditions and learning Hebrew, I feel more connected to Israel than Argentina,” she says. “I am a Latina, but I’m other identities too that mean as much to me.”

In an era when diversity goals categorize people into simple identity boxes, Camila’s story is not unique, and raises questions: What makes someone Latina? Is it DNA? Parents from Latin America? Who has the right to claim a Latinx identity?

Susana, one of Camila’s colleagues, has a similar experience but a different story. A fluent Spanish speaker with dark brown hair, she studied, worked, and lived in Mexico for many years – including dancing and singing backup in a grupo versátil band. Most of her closest friends, romantic partners and godchildren are Mexican.

For decades, many people have assumed Susana is Latina — but she is racially White. While Latinx multiracial heritage includes White Europeans, Susana has no Latin American DNA. Can she declare she is culturally Latina? 

The Impact of Latinx Multi-dimensional Identities

Identity – one’s sense of self – is a core and ancient human need. For millennia, identity has been synonymous with belonging, and belonging synonymous with safety and sustenance. This belonging was granted through the happenstance of one’s birth – random genetics and geography.

What forms our identity today is far more complex, nuanced and dynamic. Navigating a world where name and appearance don’t always indicate affiliation can be disorienting. However, as growing trends in migration, interracial mixing and cross-cultural contact continue, learning to navigate this world is a must-have. Latinxs are the vanguard of a trend in multi-identity that will affect more people over time.

This trend presents three major challenges:

  • Multi-identity people face challenging cognitive and social complexities. As genetic and geographical borders blur, more people have more identities to manage. Managing them through “code switching” can require greater awareness and brain power as well as skill, which can be stressful or confusing. While there is freedom in identity fluidity, there is also limitation in the loss of a singular personal point of reference.
  • Multi-identity people disrupt traditional identity categories. While many argue that the U.S. penchant for racial categorization is divisive and outdated, brain science indicates that we do notice physical traits in others we categorize as racial, then assign qualities based on those traits. Connecting identities to outcomes helps institutions track whether or not their policies and practices are equitable. But when identities become increasingly blurry and fluid, such data lose their usefulness. Eventually institutions will have to redefine what “diversity” means, and re-examine how to track equity and progress.
  • Greater disorientation and disconnect for everyone. Not always knowing “what” another person “is,” nor having clear norms for how to identify someone, presents a new challenge for our species. People may be less likely to engage deeply with one another for fear of making a wrong assumption. Those with multidimensional identities can experience exclusion or bigotry towards their non-visible identities. They also bear the burden of managing others’ confusion and questioning when those identities are revealed.

Creating inclusive environments for multi-identity individuals

The following six practices can create more inclusive environments for multi-identity people:

  1. Don’t be afraid to be unsure, or to guess. Noticing that you’re not sure about someone’s identity, and maintaining curiosity, will keep your brain from solidifying around the initial assumptions we all make when meeting someone new. Have fun inside your mind trying to guess, but be careful about guessing out loud until you know someone better.
  2. Be curious and listen for cues. This isn’t stereotyping, it’s discovery. Learning about another person’s identities and seeing all their selves respects their full humanity and creates connection. Listen to how they talk and what they say. If they trust you, multi-identity individuals will give you clues about who they are.
  3. Consider asking. If rapport and trust have been built, most multi-identity people appreciate the question. It shows that you understand identity is important to them, and that you want to know all of their selves. Steer away from clichéd questions like “Where are you from?” and try “May I ask, how do you identify culturally?” Avoid direct or continued probing if the person’s body language indicates discomfort.
  4. Catch and check your assumptions. Camila recalls her first Mexican restaurant experience in grad school where her friends asked her what she’d recommend from the menu. She answered: “You probably don’t want my advice. Tacos are shoe heels, burritos are donkeys, and fajitas…means ‘girdles!’” Another approach might be, “Camila, I’m not sure of your background, do you have any insight into this menu?” Pay close attention to nonverbal feedback to gauge how your good intentions are received.
  5. Focus on what a person’s identity means to them, not what it means to you. An identity label is an entry point, not the entire story. Once you discover someone is Brazilian, you risk damaging connection if you immediately start talking about your trip to Rio. Balance curiosity with respect – the other person may not be interested in satisfying your curiosity. Avoid treating them as your personal tour guide or cultural interpreter (“Your dad was Mexican? How did he treat your mom, was he ‘macho’?”). Such conversations aren’t taboo, but they will emerge organically as trust is built.
  6. Reflect the person’s identity back to them. Spell and pronounce the person’s name accurately and avoid shortening it or creating a nickname. Not everyone named Pamela likes to be called Pam; some who pronounce their name as “George” spell it “Jorge.” When in doubt, ask. Never contradict or tell someone how they should name or identify themselves.

Multi-identity people like Latinxs play a critical role in bringing the “should” reality of identity closer by disrupting what “is.” Camila, Susana and others like them embody a new approach where identity is defined by both embracing and transcending the simple facts of a DNA test.

Note: Names and some details have been changed to protect anonymity.

Two Letters – taking a stand! – by Terry Howard

As sheer coincidence would have it, I’d just finished rereading Dr. King’s famous “Letter from A Birmingham Jail” when the following excerpts of a letter from my good friend “Shirley” popped up in my email:
Dear Pastor, I first want to say that I have benefitted from your sermons since I have been a part of your congregation. I, however, have some concerns that prompted me to write to you. I know that my political beliefs aren’t necessarily in line with a large portion of the congregation. I knew that when I first started worshipping here but I didn’t perceive it to be a concern. I believed this to be true because I try to look at people and issues and determine the best course of action based upon all that I hear, read, observe and analyze. Based on that process, I pray that I know what is the most prudent to address and decisions to make.  

Continue reading Two Letters – taking a stand! – by Terry Howard

Asian Americans Must Vote for Inclusion- by Celeste Chen

When they first came to America, my parents, now Asian Americans, lived in a cramped apartment, first in New York, and then in Boston. My father likes to recount stories of how he would have to make multiple treks in the middle of New England snowstorms to buy diapers because they didn’t have enough money for bus fare.

Continue reading Asian Americans Must Vote for Inclusion- by Celeste Chen

Diversify into the Future – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

“As we gather together at this exploration & celebration of our cultural diversity, let us ask for the blessing of our Creator who has placed us all on this precious planet. Let us give thanks for our shared hope for a future where we can harmonize, not homogenize, the intersection of race, ethnicity, religion, generation, and genders represented in this room.” That’s how I began my invocation prayer for Chattanooga’s Chamber of Commerce Diversify Summit. The luncheon at the Convention Center was packed with every generation, from grey-haired sages to newborn infants with their moms. Attendees represented corporations, small businesses, universities and colleges, nonprofits, networking groups, media, and municipal agencies.

Continue reading Diversify into the Future – by Deborah Levine

Pamela Teagarden: Systems Models to Sustain Inclusive Diversity

As a former banker, with grad studies in behavioral psychology, Pam Teagarden works from the intersection of business and behaviors. She developed AI models of ‘Inclusive Diversity’ using cutting-edge systems information to provide performance-based measures of effective inclusion, linking diverse workforces directly to increasing competitive advantage and to sustainable high levels of employee engagement.

CLICK below for podcast…

Navigating the “touch, no touch” quagmire: Part 2 – by Terry Howard

“Reach out and touch someone and make this a better world if you can.”  ~ Diana Ross

Wow, before the ink was dry on my, “Hug me not Joe Biden,” fundamentally a “don’t touch” (or touch selectively) advisory, in the American Diversity Report, along comes Tiffany Field who has spent decades trying to get people to do just the opposite…. touch one another more.

Okay, I say don’t touch, she says do touch!

So what gives?

Continue reading Navigating the “touch, no touch” quagmire: Part 2 – by Terry Howard

Rethinking Diversity & Inclusion – by Deborah Levine

In just the 10 days following the 2016 US election, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported 867 hate harassment incidences ranging from racist and threatening graffiti, fliers, to physical attacks. The unusually high number of incidents were primarily anti-black and anti-immigrant and the most common venues were schools and colleges. In addition, the New York Police Department said it has seen a dramatic rise in hate crimes following the election of Donald Trump, with the majority of incidents directed at Jews, according to New York news outlets.  In a discussion with colleagues, the question came up as to whether the sudden emergence of the dark forces of hate demonstrates a failure of the diversity & inclusion profession.

Continue reading Rethinking Diversity & Inclusion – by Deborah Levine

Find your “where”: where they care about diversity – by Rose Opengart

Chart your own professional future. Because where you work can make all the difference in the world in your job satisfaction. Why not? Now is the right time. Unemployment is low and there is a labor shortage, so you have choices in jobs!

This means that you should act with purpose in choosing where you work. Figure out what is important to you and then, while interviewing, ask questions that help you learn about the company and if it is a place where your needs and values will be met. If diversity is a critical value for you, it should be as well for the organization at which you work. How can you determine how important diversity is to an organization just from an interview? You will want a sense of this before deciding whether or not to accept an offer of employment. You can acquire this information during an interview by asking questions like the following, observing, and listening.

Continue reading Find your “where”: where they care about diversity – by Rose Opengart

The Great Flood – by Lydia Taylor

In the early morning of October 16, 2018, I was awakened by the muffled voices of my parents who were scurrying around their home.  I could hear them speaking but did not know what they were talking about. Besides, I was interested in getting a bit more sleep.  At approximately 7:00am one of them appeared in the doorway.  She told me what time it was and that we were evacuating.  Initially I thought, is it that serious?  Nevertheless, I immediately got out of bed and put on some jeans and tennis shoes, grabbed my Vera Bradley duffle and put a few toiletries into the matching cosmetics bag.  I was visiting, so my bags were readily available.  It took very little time and we were out the door and into the driving rain.

Continue reading The Great Flood – by Lydia Taylor