Every day I think about race. Actually, racism. For the past 12 years, since my son was born, it’s top of mind on a daily basis. I was born to a white mother and black father long before the prevalence of bi-and multi-racial celebrities and public figures. I remember taking road trips with my parents and younger sisters to family gatherings in Arkansas. I remember being pulled over by police and my father harassed for being with a white woman. I remember my mother being called a nigger lover. I remember being taunted as a young person or being preyed upon by older men who considered me exotic. It was awful, and even my parents’ love couldn’t shield me from the ugliness of the world.
Now, every day I think about what I, as a mother of a black boy, can do to shield him from the ugliness of the world. Often when speaking about racism and oppression to groups, I include an image of my son. I tell members of the audience to look at him, try to look at him with my...
A participant in our online course on Well-Being and Morale asked me, “Is saying thank you the same as expressing gratitude?” I was immediately struck by the question, unable to provide an immediate response. I had to really think about a response that wouldn’t seem too knee-jerk and could capture what I believe to be the substantive difference between the two. In short, my answer was no. I don’t think that saying thank you is the same as expressing gratitude.
The words “thank you” are often uttered in autopilot mode, as an expression of our own desire to convey politeness. Not to say that we aren’t truly thankful when uttering those words, but gratitude is a bit more; it’s awareness of the actions of another person and deep appreciation for the effort they exerted on your behalf. When expressed, it’s often felt as “I see you. I appreciate what you did for me, but more importantly, who you are.”
I’ve been doing work related to equity, diversity, and inclusion for nearly 30 years. I’ve seen the ebb and flow of interest and commitment by people in leadership roles, across organizations, and industries. The rationale has typically fallen into one of two categories: 1. “Our priorities have shifted. We have to focus on the immediate crisis at hand.” or 2. “We tried. We hired a person but didn’t get the results we expected.” As in the past, it may be tempting to table EDI “for now”, at least until after we get past Covid-19 and all its implications. I’m advocating here for exactly the opposite stance. Perhaps it's self-serving because I’ve spent my career educating and trying to advance EDI. I am a Black woman raising a Black son. So, I am not surprised but horrified by the disproportionate rates of Covid illness and death in Black and brown communities and where atrocities like the killing of Ahmaud Arbery...
Yesterday I was talking with a friend, just checking in on how they’re doing during quarantine. “How have you been spending your days?” I asked. “I haven’t been doing much of anything. There’s really nothing I can do right now,” they replied. Hmmm...I thought. They then asked about how I’m filling my time, that my experience was like their own. I reflected briefly then started, with energy that even surprised me, to name all sorts of things I’ve been doing to occupy my time. “I’ve been really great about meditating every day. Shiloh and I are going for walks and bike rides. I’m reading some interesting books. I designed and launched some new online courses, after of course, panicking like so many other small businesses about our viability. I’ve been working with friends in my community to sew masks and make face shields and get those to healthcare workers and people who are homeless. I’ve been doing...
I'm sure you have a million things on your mind. There are so many things happening at once. Some folks are just now starting to settle into virtual routines, others are moving from one physical location to another to allow for deep cleaning and preparation for larger groups, and some are actively planning your re-entry strategy. In addition to just keeping up with all of the expectations associated with planning, many people have been expressing to me how just doggone tired we are. I'm tired, too.
So for those of you who, like me, are feeling exhausted, I want to share 4 simple Cs to remember as you communicate: 1) Clarity, 2) Consistency, 3) Care and 4) Continuity. Though they sound pretty straightforward, I encourage you to think about how you can use simple structured approaches to help make your lifting lighter. Read on to get some ideas.
Be clear about what is happening, even when you’re not certain about all of the details. This is particularly...
In reference to the Coronavirus pandemic, I keep hearing "new normal” this and “new normal” that. When I listen carefully to what people are saying, I often agree with their point--things have shifted, and fast. But the language of “new normal” implies permanence; exactly what we don’t want to apply to this current and temporary crisis. Language is powerful. It affects how we view and make meaning of things that are happening around us. It also colors the way others perceive these experiences. So, I would like to propose some alternatives for “new normal”:
1. Reframe the way you are processing this situation. Yes, it’s filled with fear, uncertainty, loss, and grief. However, we can’t get swallowed up by those things. We can also look for the gifts. For example, the outpouring of kindness and generosity demonstrated over the last few weeks has been amazing. This is particularly powerful in the wake of what has been...
This is week 3 for many of you. This Monday marks the beginning of the third week of living and interacting in a very new reality. You have likely, in weeks 1 and 2, made sure that your employees have access to the internet at home, know what shared tools will be used to communicate, and assigned short-term projects that can be completed away from your typical work environment. You have also, hopefully, exhaled.
In parallel, this is also the week when many are starting to experience personal losses due to the Coronavirus of family or friends. If this is the case for you, please know that I extend my heartfelt condolences.
In the midst of all that has happened and is happening, I encourage you to focus your energy with the end in mind. What do we want to be the experiences, the lessons learned, the triumphs that we take from this difficult time?
You've already learned that working from home takes a very different type of energy. As we are transitioning to virtual, many of us are...
Here we are, the beginning of Week 2. I know that the Coronavirus has been around longer than 2 weeks, but last week was, for many people in the U.S., the beginning of what has now become a massive shut down of our schools, businesses, and life as we’ve known it. Every day there are new restrictions the timeframe for them extended.
I’ve been talking to people from coast to coast about making tough decisions, communicating during crisis, and centering issues of equity and our shared values. In the midst of all the conversations about taking care of others, I want to insert a reminder to take care of yourself.
Your sense of personal well-being might be comprised right now. You may be concerned about:
The past few weeks have been tough. You have likely been consumed with deliberations on what to do about the coronavirus. With the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic and President Trump’s recent travel restrictions, anxiety seems to be only on the rise.
Many of you are making tough but considerate choices to cancel large gatherings and close facilities. I know you, like us, are worried not just about immediate health concerns but also implications for employees who will feel the very real repercussions of these decisions. I don’t have the magic answer. We are living through this real-time with you. However, I do want to take this moment to share a couple reminders.
1. Show up as the leader you want to be.
When we are stressed and adrenaline is racing through our bodies, our natural response is to avoid pain or uncertainty. As leaders, take this moment to center yourself, reconnect with your intentional leadership philosophy, and show up as helpful,...
Have you ever been worried you're using outdated words to describe people and groups? Are you concerned that it may impact your client and professional relationships? Perhaps even offend someone?
Language sends a strong message to our colleagues, especially given the current level of public calling out of people for using words that are perceived as offensive or dated.
Inclusive managers are encouraged not to make assumptions about language preferences across groups, even within your group.
What is inclusive language? Inclusive language is communication that avoids using words, expressions or assumptions that exclude people across gender, language, culture, religion, race, ability, family structure, marital status, sexuality, origin, class and/or organizational classification.
Why do we use inclusive language?
Being intentional with our words conveys a genuine effort to truly see and honor people in a way that is most appropriate for them. It is an attempt to address the...