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Leading by Unpacking (3 of 4) | It Starts in the C-Suite

Summertime is finally here and that means more opportunities to slow down and engage in conversations over coffee, tea, or your favorite beverage, even if that’s still over Zoom.

Last week, provides a platform for executives to practice leading by unpacking. Executives are sometimes viewed as not doing enough to model and foster inclusive leadership traits that cultivate a sense of Belonging across the organizational system of systems.

These conversations are designed to address that perceived disconnect by providing a space for C-suite leaders to share stories about their personal DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & BELONGING journey, examine how their DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & BELONGING journey shapes their leadership in pursuit of DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & BELONGING in the workplace, and hear about the intent and impact of DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & BELONGING from a subset of today’s incoming workforce. It may seem easy, but it requires constantly leading by unpacking outdated ways of being with others, especially others who aren’t often seen in corporate America.

I have found that sometimes, members of the C-suite are unsure about if or when to start the DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & BELONGING conversation in their organization, especially if it appears that their workforce lacks diversity for reasons that are assumed to be industry-related. This leads people in general to assume that DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & BELONGING conversations are difficult. At attitude of leading by unpacking makes it easier for members of the C-suite to reframe DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & BELONGING conversations from being difficult to being different.

For instance, it used to be considered open-minded to say, “I don’t see color,” or “One of my best friends is Black (or fill in the blank)”, or “Who you love is your own business.” While the intent of these statements was to be accepting, the impacts can be anything but. These once tried and true “go-to” statements can cause us to be too full of intellectual arrogance to clearly see our need to practice cultural humility by changing up the way we engage with others. An approach that taps into diversity by being culturally curious doesn’t have to be assumed to be difficult. It’s different. And leading by unpacking assumptions, interpretations and limiting beliefs about those who make up today’s workforce is a real conversation from the C-suite worth sharing that ensures workforce sustainability.

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