My friends at GCUC Community recently hosted a facilitated discussion on communication and connection during racial unrest. Panelists for the event were Valerie Williams from the Converge Firm, Rory Verrett from Protege Search, and Ebbie Parsons from Yardstick Management.
It was a great opportunity to learn from some leading voices around diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Here are my top nine takeaways from the event.
9. Start the conversation already.
If you want to make connections with black communities, LGBTQ communities, underserved communities etc. but aren’t sure what to say, reach out and say, “I want to reach out and make a connection. I’m not sure what to say, but I want to say something.”
8. Humanness rules.
When you find yourself in a situation where you can deepen your understanding, or help someone deepen theirs, approach it with playfulness, kindness, humanness and a solutions mindset.
The openness, humor and real talk of the panelists made for such a fun and enlightening conversation.
7. Where were the dudes?
The panel was amazing and the conversation was rich, fun, inspiring and informative. And the audience was 90% female.
I know the invite went out to thousands of people and was open to friends, family and colleagues as well. The event could have (should have) been packed.
The 50 or so people there were engaged and truly in it to learn and make meaningful steps toward creating a more just world. Imagine the impact if 10 times that number showed up.
6. Give people space to be an ally, to trip up, to make mistakes, and to keep coming back.
People must be given the space to learn and practice being an ally. This is something I’ve found to be true in my own life many times.
5. Wondering how you’re doing with diversity in your space or company? Track it.
Gather metrics and work on improving. Hat tip to Amy King from Goodwork for bringing this tip into the conversation and reminding us that we can’t improve what we don’t measure.
4. Stay focused on meaningful, systemic solutions
Rory commented that he was far less concerned whether he was referred to as black or African American than he was about whether he was given promotions, stretch assignments and career-building opportunities.
3. Create cross-cultural mentorships.
This one resonates so much with me. Connect people who have career and economic privilege with people who don’t. Doing so creates opportunities to change systemic isms and grow more understanding as well as real-world connection.
2. Be authentic.
Don’t try to write the perfect solidarity statement, write your solidarity statement. What do you believe? What do you stand for? What are you doing? Where could you do better? What will you do? Write that. That’s what resonates and has meaning.
1. Keep moving. Keep trying. Keep working. Keep learning.
We have an incredible opportunity right now to make real change in systems that have run on oppression and bigotry for far too long.
Get in where you fit in, do what you can where you are. We need to keep our eye on the ball of making systemic change.
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