I am finally launching my first blog! With all of the thought that I give to advancing innovation through increasing inclusion and creating real diversity in the workplace, it has taken me a while to catch up to this innovative means of communication! 😉 Perhaps because writing is an isolated, team-less activity – until I hear from you that is. Once this becomes a dialogue and is no longer a monologue it will be an inclusive activity for me.
I have been in the diversity and inclusion business since 1988 when it was called EEO. Well, I have actually been involved with diversity and inclusion much longer than that. As a child of incredibly diverse parents: my father was from Puerto Rico, where he was born in 1902 and my mother was a New Yorker, although born in Canada in 1928 of Irish, English and German descent. There are nine of us, but we have five half-siblings who are much older than I am, being the second youngest of all. I grew up primarily in a public housing project in Astoria, Queens, NY a neighborhood typical of many port cities in its regular, almost tidal ethnic shift from one dominating group to another. When I was a young girl, the dominant ethnic group was Italian, but immigrants and migrants arrived daily changing the demographic formula of the community.
The riots of the late 1960s left an indelible impression on me of conflict, polarization, marginalization and segregation. Some friends became distant, safe places became dangerous, and school yard fights more frequent. I moved through different worlds: White, Hispanic and others but never belonged fully to any of them. I was intent on defending those poor new kids from other countries whose hand-me-downs of green socks, brown plaid skirts and red blouses screamed, “Bully me!” I was not immune to the attacks of racists however, including the gang of girls who threw a bucket of water mixed with laundry detergent on my sister and me while screaming “You dirty spicks!” My experiences inspired me to help others to navigate the complexities of different cultures.
I established Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC to help organizations to overcome barriers to real innovation & diversity with real-world solutions. What that means is that I use my many years of practical experience, or distance traveled, professional experience and education to help employers hire, retain and grow the best and brightest employees into amazing leaders and innovators who love to come to work! That can be accomplished through five basic steps: The 1ststep is to assess your current organization culture; the 2nd step is to create a realistic, measurable and flexible strategic inclusion plan; the 3rd step is to develop clear, concise communication on your commitment to being inclusive; the 4th step is to provide interactive, effective education on diversity, inclusion and culture and measure results to determine your return on your investment; and the 5th step is to establish an Inclusion Support Network© to make your investment sustainable.
Future blog entries will include details on the five steps that I have developed to advance inclusion in the workplace; my observations on current events that relate to diversity and inclusion; and excerpts from my upcoming book, Let’s Not Be Polite: 5 Barriers to True Inclusion and How to Overcome Them.
I also want to hear from you. Remember, this needs to be an inclusive exercise! What concerns you about workplace diversity and inclusion? What observations have you made regarding fairness in the workplace? What has your experience been with discrimination or bullying? What do you think of leaders of organizations that you have dealt with?
Back in 1988 when people asked me what my goal was regarding my EEO work I would reply, “To put myself out of business by ending discrimination.” Twenty-five years later, the issues of diversity and inclusion are as deeply entrenched in controversy and debate as they were back then so I no longer harbor such a naïve goal. I remain as committed to diminishing the fear and ignorance that divides us and keeps us from being our best today as I was when I was a 10 year old girl mediating in the school yard. I invite everyone to explore the benefits of real diversity in an inclusive society!
Wendy Amengual Wark
April 25, 2013