Five Diversity and Inclusion Moves to Make Now – by Simma Lieberman

or… Why There is No Room for Naysayers and Negative Viber

A long-term client recently called me worried that Diversity and Inclusion would be put on the business back burner. “What will happen to support for Diversity and Inclusion now that Trump is president,” he asked.

I replied with three of my own questions, “Are you still committed?
Do you still see the business benefits? Are you going to continue leveraging diversity to develop innovative products and services?”

My client answered yes to all questions. Since the election, I’ve received many calls and emails from clients, colleagues and friends asking me the same questions. My response is always the same.

Supporting and understanding diversity and actively building inclusion is more crucial than ever whether at work, in our communities and in our world.

There has been an increase in hate crimes, hateful behavior and hate speech in the community-at-large and in some workplaces. Some of it is from people who maintain hate as an ideology. They may never let go of it.

Other people have fallen into the traps of fear of people who are different, or they blame people who are different than them (Muslims, People of Color, Jews, LGBTQ) for their own problems and life challenges. That fear is based on isolation, stereotypes they hear from people around them, and narrow news.

Since it’s easy to dehumanize, blame and hate people you don’t know, rather than become fearful ourselves, we need to take the time to talk to those people, to get to know the “other.” You may be amazed at the difference personal interaction can make.
Here are five moves you can make to support Diversity, build Inclusion and make an impact in your workplace and community.

1- Talk about Diversity and Inclusion and how we all benefit. Yes, it’s the right thing to do on the “people level,” but it’s not enough. Companies spend money, resources and time because it’s in their economic interest. If you want help with articulating the business case, call or email us.

Become fluent in Diversity and Inclusion as drivers for innovation, and better workplaces for all. Help others see that Diversity and Inclusion is in their interests and fear, discrimination and exclusion make their lives harder, wastes energy, and imprisons their minds.

2- Pick the person who seems to be least like you at work and find an area of commonality to discuss. A 55 year old African-American client from New York shared how she worked with a 30 year old White man from North Carolina for six months before they had an actual conversation. She said they avoided each other and when they did speak it was tense. ” My parents had grown up during segregation in the South and when I heard his southern accent, it brought up the stories they told me.”

He was uncomfortable because she was older, and he had never had a female boss before. One day he saw a martial arts magazine on her desk, and they both discovered that they both had a passion for Tae Kwon Do. This changed their whole work dynamic, and he was one of her best employees.

3- Wear that safety pin. Someone started a movement to get people to wear safety pins to identify themselves to people who may be in danger of harassment because of their ethnicity, religion, race, or sexual orientation. This will also provide an opportunity to talk to people you don’t know who support diversity and inclusion, and educate others.

4- Speak up and out. When you hear people make statements that are against another race, ethnicity, religion, etc. say something and do something. Silence implies consent. Don’t give friends and people you know “a pass.” You can make a difference.

5- Ask questions and share your stories with people who are different than you. Help people be less fearful of the “other.” Seek humanity in others, and don’t be afraid to demonstrate yours.

Simma Lieberman

One thought on “Five Diversity and Inclusion Moves to Make Now – by Simma Lieberman”

  1. I would add that organizing cross-racial (and other differences) excursions are a powerful ‘move.’ For example, I led a cross racial group visit to Little Rock, Arkansas to tour the famous Central High School, the place experienced by the famous “Little Rock Nine.” We then met with Elizabeth Eckford on of the Nine and had dinner to react to our experiences that day. One of our group, a white male attorney, shared years later that that was one of the most impactful experiences in his entire life. That said, my next move will be to take a different group to see the movie “Hidden Figures,” and then meet over dinner to discuss it and its relevance to diversity and inclusion….and the business case!

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