Updated: Mar 20
Let’s follow up where we left off with the idea of beauty and worth being in the eye of the beholder. Just as with colorless diamonds, the lack of color or whiteness of one’s skin is considered to bring the highest value in the workplace, while people with hues ranging between yellow and brown, or who self-identify within the range between women and non-binary, are considered of lowest value.
To establish credibility as leaders who endeavor to lead the Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DIB) journey with their organizations means that one must intentionally cultivate a multifaceted perspective. In other words, if a leader is advocating DIB work as “the right thing to do” or “it just makes sense” and yet their own close circle doesn’t reflect diversity and inclusion, then credibility can be lost.
One’s credibility as a leader and advocate is highly questionable if one’s personal circle fails to reflect the workplace demographic and culture a leader claims to pursue because “it’s the right thing to do” and “it just makes sense.”
Following through with our diamond analogy, "the play of light on the diamond's multifaceted surface reveals a variety of different and important features or elements.” Similarly, when we shine a light on the lives and voices of those different from our own, there is no telling what important features and elements of themselves they can contribute in a workplace that authentically pursues diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
I hope you’re still with me at this point.
Unless a leader –especially a leader operating among the highest ranks of the organizational system-of-systems— has first-hand, personally meaningful encounters with people unlike themselves, how can they possibly be prepared for the hesitations and obstructive behavior they are sure to encounter from various employees across the organization?
For the population who are Black Indigenous People Of Color (BIPOC), it may be the hesitation to speak up for fear that they aren’t really supported by leaders who claim to value them inside the workplace, because those same leaders don’t know anyone like them outside the workplace.
For some white people, it may be their demonstration of behaviors that obstruct progress toward inclusion and equity for all, as they may interpret DIB efforts as now leaving them behind, which is NOT the case. Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging is never about taking anything away from anyone else. It’s ensuring that everyone gets a share.
Without the benefit of personally meaningful encounters that cultivate real relationships, a leader cannot begin to decipher what persuades people unlike them, unless they try to know people unlike them, including other white people. So, HOW does a leader start to get to know more diverse people and cultivate new relationships? Next time, we’ll address that!