Updated: Jun 5
Another one of my clients, Abode Communities, has an amazing journey to share. Their organization exists as a direct result of the Civil Rights Movement. The impacts of our leadership sessions, and how collaborating with me has supported their work as an organization that has existed and focused on affordable housing in California for 55 years is inspirational.
According to the CEO, they knew they had to start reflecting on how equity and belonging happens among the C-suite members and a fundamental shift in how they thought about everything they do – making decisions, hiring and promoting, etc. They also wanted to learn how to start diversifying the organization in order to diversify the whole affordable housing industry. They learned the importance of continuity – for those who have been with the organization for many years, but are stepping into new roles sometimes, or supporting new members of the organization.
The CFO, considering himself to be a privileged white male, was concerned about approaching the journey of belonging with that privilege. He worried about how others were going to be reacting to him, and how he could possibly relate to what other people were experiencing. He was intentional about making this a “learning experience” starting from ground zero, which helped. He approached the work as an opportunity to push himself and demonstrate how much social justice meant to him – how willing he was to do this in front of work colleagues because he wanted to be an example for the leadership team by being an active participant. Belonging work is now “top of mind” for him all the time.
The leadership team at Abode knew it had to establish that everyone came into this experience as equals, no hierarchy – it was about setting organizational culture, but also one’s individual personal culture – and how one chooses to show up. They said, “you’re leaving your title at the door. Hear from each other as a human being, not a C-suite member. The sharing of difficult moments - microaggressions, etc. and how those show up at work – makes the vulnerability worth it. It may be an uncertain road at times, but you have to have faith in the process.”