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Taking the Scariness out of DIB Work (3 of 4) | Reframing DIB Conversations: Difficult to Different

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Again, I need you to remember that we ALL have biases. It’s often been said that if you have a brain, you have bias. The challenge comes in identifying our biases and having the courage to examine and manage those biases accordingly. Since childhood, we have been socialized to have biases. Either through our upbringing, or through what we have been shown in the media, read in books, seen in movies and TV, or via social media platforms and the influencers who reach us through those platforms.

Often, those biases are reflected in the filters of assumptions, interpretations, and limiting beliefs we associate with people different from us for whatever reason. In terms of bias, those reasons are invalid. And, biases are not always associated with people different from us. Some people see others who look just like them, and based on how they present, project the status of “threat” without knowing anything about the other person. Now that’s scary!

Here’s what else I find scary: people who walk around on autopilot, being led by the “fast brain” and continuing to buy into the assumptions, interpretations, and limiting beliefs they associate with people different from them, for whatever reason.

And because our biases are so ingrained, either intentionally or subconsciously, people find it scary to even have the conversation about Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging.

As a result, some people are extremely defensive about their position on Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging. Other people simply shut down. In either case, I believe people are just afraid to keep it real and engage in self-discovery that may lead to some realizations they don’t want to own. To remove the scariness from Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging efforts, we all must first own our situation, so we can own our solutions, and own our successes.

To own our situation requires us to decouple the journey of self-discovery from shame and blame. Then, we can own our solutions by reframing self-discovery as an opportunity to know and grow. And we can own our successes by intentionally focusing on cultivating human affirming behaviors that will lead to more effective interpersonal exchanges and result in creating the future cultures we want at work and in society so that everyone can thrive.

I completely recognize that all this work can’t be done overnight. It can’t be done within 5 years. Culture change in the workplace takes approximately 7 to 10 years to take place. And once it happens, it must be nurtured for the life of the organization.

An example I like to use is this: If someone needs a blood transfusion to save their life, once they are healed, that lifesaving blood doesn’t drain out of their pinky toe one day. That lifesaving blood will circulate in their body for the rest of their lives. In the same way, the transfusion of human affirming behaviors that is incorporated into the body of an organization should not be allowed to “drain out” once it seems the patient has recovered through the successful implementation of a 5-year D&I plan. In order to sustain the new corporate culture, it must be seen as critical to the life of the organization forever. Period. Full stop.

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