Tag Archives: Interdependence

Announcing the Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC Partnership

Nebahat Timur Tokgöz
I am thrilled to announce the addition of two partners to assist me in leading Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC to greater heights of collaboration and success!
It is my honor to be associated with these dynamic, exceptional, and visionary women – Tresa Eyres and Nebahat Timur Tokgöz. Collectively they add a wealth of knowledge and experience, competency, and professionalism to Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC. They each also bring something even more valuable to me:Passion with a purpose.
Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC was founded on the principle that all people are valuable and hence, should be valued. Tresa and Nebahat have given tirelessly, through their careers and pro bono endeavors, to achieve that mission. Nebahat has also developed a rare gift of painting as a further means of expressing her passion for people and the creative process. Our diverse backgrounds and complementary skills and experiences will provide our clients with greater opportunity to strategically create success through inclusion!
Please join me in welcoming Tresa and Nebahat to Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC!
Tresa Eyres, Partner Tresa

Tresa is a learning and development professional with more than 25 years helping clients improve their leadership and productivity. In the years 1994 through 2001, she was a key member of Bank of America Advisory Services, Inc., which provided on-site consulting to a number of financial institutions in Turkey.

 

Nebahat Timur Tokgöz, PartnerNebahat

Nebahat is a seasoned business professional with more than 30 years of demonstrated success. At a time in Turkey when few women held executive office, Nebahat was one of the first female Assistant General Managers of a financial institution and the first (non-family) female member of a Board of Directors.

 

16 September 2013
 

Commemorations

Commemorations

This week commemorates two anniversaries: August 26, 1920 the day that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified granting women suffrage or the right to vote and August 28, 1963 when more than 200,000 people convened the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Commemoration is the act of co-remembering, to publicly share and memorialize some historic event. As a student of history, I love commemorations and the many ways that they influence the present and subsequently, our perceptions of the past.
 

(© 2003 D’Azi Productions)

“You cannot know where you are going, until you know where you have been.”

My mouse pad, a gift that a friend brought me from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, has “History” (1962) written across the top and a photo depicting three doors. The first door has the word “Women” on it, the second door has the word “Men” on it and third door has the word “Colored” on it. Under the photo is the caption: “You cannot know where you are going, until you know where you have been.”
I love this mouse pad! Every day it reminds me why I do the work that I do. Every day it reminds me of Emma Lazarus’ words: “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” Ms. Lazarus, the poet famous for “The New Colossus” which is etched at the base of the Statue of Liberty was born in New York City but was never able to vote because of her gender.

A Lifetime of Voting
My mother was born eight years after women earned the right to vote in the U.S. and brought me to the voting booth for as far back as I can remember. I remember being in the booth with her, fascinated as she clicked the levers and finally slid the metal bar across that registered her vote and opened the curtain. The Wizard of Oz had nothing on her! I remember entertaining myself while she volunteered at the polls. I remember registering to vote immediately after my eighteenth birthday and counting the months that I had to wait for the first election that I would vote in. It was the 1976 Presidential election and being the nation’s bicentennial made it all even more exciting.

The Women’s Suffrage movement was launched officially in 1848 at a convention in Seneca Falls, NY, where Frederick Douglass, the only African American to attend the event, gave an inspirational pro-vote speech. (There were many women present who were anti-suffrage.) In 1851 at the Women’s Convention in Akron, OH, Sojourner Truth, another former slave delivered her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech which poignantly argues for women’s equality. The women’s suffrage movement had its up and downs over its 72 year span including some deplorably racist tenets held by Susan B. Anthony and others. One might argue that white women competing against African American men for the vote exemplified a successful campaign to ‘divide and conquer’, but it was not and is not that simple. There were some lighter moments as well such as when Alice Duer Miller turned the tables in 1915:
 
Why We Don’t Want Men to Vote
  • Because man’s place is in the army.
  • Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
  • Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them.
  • Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms, and drums.
  • Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them unfit for government.
 
 
March On!
Yesterday marked the 50th Anniversary of the Great March on Washington. In 1963 I watched the historic event on television, awe struck by the vast range of humanity out en masse. The words of hope and inspiration from one speaker and performer after another were incredible, even to a little 5 year old girl. I did not understand the significance of the event nor how it would impact our world, but the message – We all deserve to be free and to be able to make a decent living wage – made its way from the Lincoln Memorial to our living room and has been motivating me ever since.
 
 
What is your story?
History – our story – is comprised of people who make a difference every day by marching, walking, talking, sharing, teaching and remembering! How have these historic events affected you and those you love? What is your story? How may we commemorate it?
 
Onward!
 
~ Wendy
 

Independence

The Founding Fathers

Committing treason, more akin to blasphemy, as they were citizens of a nation still influenced by decades of a belief in ‘divine right’ did not come easily to the Founding Fathers. This belief that kings were appointed by God was waning by 1763 when the British, as a result of really poor management, raised taxes in the colonies resulting in the American Revolution which helped to put an end to divine right altogether.
The Founding Fathers are often referred to as a mono-cultural group, but they were hardly that. The regional, religious, political, and historical diversity of the group that represented 13 distinct governments reviewed and debated 90 declarations before establishing the “Committee of 5” to write what became the Declaration of Independence. The Committee in turn, gave the job to Thomas Jefferson who submitted the first draft on June 28, 1776. After a few days of debate and modification the final document was signed on the Fourth of July, 1776. (This date has been contested by historians, but an almost-final draft of the document was printed and posted on July Fourth.)
The authors and signers of the Declaration of Independence had to agree to disagree if they were to gain their freedom from tyranny. They had to debate deep philosophical and political differences and stay in that room during a sweltering Philadelphia summer until they truly represented unitedstates. The Continental Congress had found enough strongly shared common interests and beliefs to sever their ties to their homeland forever.
The Declaration of Independence Has Six Sections
The Introduction: Which begins “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,”
The Preamble: Another incredible beginning: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Indictment: An outline of the offenses the authors claim were committed by the King of England, including “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:”
The Denunciation: The justification for the declaration, “Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.:”
The Conclusion: Establishes “That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;.”
The Signatures: This evidence makes it impossible for the 56 signers to deny their commitment to the content of the document.

 

An Evolving Inclusion Strategic Plan!

Now that the newly formed United States of America declared their independence from

Great Britain they had to make themselves independent in fact. It took another 13 years before George Washington was inaugurated. The fact that the document signed in 1776 excluded the majority of the people under its jurisdiction does not diminish its impact. As we evolved as a nation the words of The Declaration of Independence were used to argue for the enfranchisement of all U.S. Citizens. 87 years dragged on before slavery was abolished. Another 3 years elapsed before former male slaves gained the right to vote. 54 more years passed before women who were U.S. Citizens acquired the right to vote. The powerful words contained in this document are used to assert the rights of people all over the world and act as a catalyst for defending freedom, representation and democracy everywhere.

As you celebrate this holiday, please remember to read The Declaration of Independence and think about where we might be without our diversity and inclusion, in other words, without our independence. The Declaration Of Independence
Happy Independence Day!
Onward,
~ Wendy
 

Cities of People

Last week I came across an essay that I wrote in 1996 examining the role that a city’s inhabitants play on transforming their space and how they are the architects of the future, especially through their diversity of thought.  This essay is as relevant today as it was when I wrote it. I asserted that cities are comprised of people whose lives, experiences and perspectives are the pulse of any community.  I contended that the diversity of human thought and experience breathes life into every city’s sky-scrapers, tenements and developments.  Though ever-changing skylines may reveal the physical history of cities, it is the people themselves who define the culture of cities.  As Lewis Mumford, observed in The City in History, the common denominator of all cities is that they bring together “not only the physical means but the human agents needed to pass on and enlarge.. [our cultural] heritage.”  Consequently, multifarious voices of city dwellers speak to us from the past and inform our future, enabling us to recognize diversity as a vital, rejuvenating element rather than a reason for urban demise. 
The Message

The recent developments in Turkey and Brazil are powerful illustrations of the capacity of diverse people to act inclusively when they share common goals.  Like many of you I have been paying close attention to these events.  I have been observing how people respond when they believe that they have been excluded. The people who have been filling streets and plazas in Turkish and Brazilian cities represent a diverse range of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, education level, profession, parental status, marital status, and political affiliation.  They have come to send a message to the leaders of their nations:  “We matter!  What we think matters!  Listen to us!”  
Our Space
When developers or politicians make decisions that result in an altered public landscape without the informed consent of the public they risk the wrath of that body.  Few people who grew up in New York in the 1950s and 1960s hear the name of Robert Moses without thinking about the neighborhoods in New York City that were destroyed as a result of his arbitrary decisions to build highways that cut off the life blood of those communities by separating residences from shops and schools and services.  The South Bronx suffered the most critical damage as a result of Mr. Moses’ actions and the urban blight that became synonymous with that borough has yet to be completely cured. 
The people of Turkey and Brazil have spoken up and reasserted their right to decide the fate of their cities, neighborhoods, and public spaces.  This is not just a response to the use of their hard earned tax dollars, but an expression of revulsion that they have been told, by the actions of their nations’ leaders that they have no voice, no opinion that matters, no stake in the outcome of decisions.
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Reuters June 12 2013

Never Say “Just A Housewife!”
People matter, not just in an abstract way, but in a very real way. As the personal stories of those who are risking a great deal to raise their voices begin to emerge, I hear what can be described as spontaneous harmony.  One voice is that of Ayse Diskaya, a 48-year-old housewife who Murad Sezer wrote about for Reuters:  http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2013/06/12/taksim-square-one-womans-protest/  Ms. Diskaya’s story is a poignant one of a women who has risen above adversity.
Diverse Voices
As I stated above the protestors represent a diverse range of people, thoughts, ideas and issues.  People are also protesting for various reasons and causes.  That is the beauty of democracy, we can really agree to disagree and still stand side-by-side in opposition to being excluded.  You were wondering when I would get to the word inclusion, weren’t you?  Well, people need to be included.  It really is quite simple.  As a result of the protests in Turkey the demolition of Gezi Park has been halted, at least temporarily.  In Brazil, the bus fare increase that sparked the protest has been rescinded.  The protesters in both nations have cited many issues as the reason for their outrage.
Datafolha 18 June 2013

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The New Public Arena
One way that people are speaking up all over the world is via social media, Twitter and Facebook, in particular.  Those who formerly gathered in the public arena, the local plaza, and the corner pub, have all convened on the internet with access to all in unprecedented and unpredictable ways.  The diversity of opinion that is exchanged in the span of one hour of any event is mind boggling!  People are free to say whatever they want about any subject and to get feedback from a huge number of other people.  This may seemed chaotic at first, but order really does emerge and people really do let each other know when they are being rude or ignorant or anti-social.  The democracy and inclusion of their diversity is what makes social media so astronomically successful. 
Harmony
On June 10 hundreds of people in Taksim Square in Istanbul sang “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from “Les Miserables.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FctAww-4p9k
When people sing in harmony, the sky is the limit!
W. Wark, 2011
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People need to be included in decision making whether those decisions are about the alteration of public space, their access to health care and education, their right to free speech, or their right to assembly.  Demos, after all means “the people” in ancient Greek.  We cannot have democracy without the people.  Just as we cannot have cities without the people.
So, what do you have to say about it?
Onward,
~ Wendy
 

Learning to be Inclusive

“I’m Done”

Several years ago I was in California’s central valley to facilitate training sessions for a large organization with many locations. It was well over 110 degrees and despite the low humidity, it felt very hot. I had spoken with my contact the day before to make sure that all of the details for the sessions were taken care of, but when I arrived at the training location the laptop that was needed to convey the information that I was there to share via Power Point was not in the training room. My contact did not recall confirming that she would provide said laptop during our conversation the day before and after emitting a long sigh, said that she would go and find one. The room was inside of a large trailer as the client’s office building was under construction, so my contact did not have to go very far to find a laptop. In fact, she just stepped outside of the door of the training room and returned a moment later with a plastic supermarket bag. The bag contained a laptop which she proceeded to look at along with its corresponding power cord as if unsure how the two objects were related. I offered assistance and asked her if she knew how to use the laptop and projector which needed to be connected within the next few minutes if I was going to be able to use them for the upcoming session. She responded as follows: “I’m an omelet.” I was not sure if I had heard her correctly, so I asked her if she said ‘omelet’. She responded, very slowly: “Yes, I’m an omelet. I’m done. I am tired of learning things just so that other people can use them.” I asked if she had any use for the computer and she said that she was retiring in a few months and did not see any reason to learn anything new. “I am here just to set up the training room.” She shared that she had almost completed her bachelor’s degree, with only one course to go, but did not see the point in finishing. I suggested that since she was retiring that she might use some of her new found free-time to take that one last class, to which she snorted, “Why?” What a profoundly sad woman! How could anyone not want to learn something new every day?
 
Learning as a key to Inclusion

 

Last week I facilitated a panel titled, “Driving Innovation for Greater Business Results” at NALC NY (DiversityBest Practices Network and Affinity Leadership Congress). When one is presenting at a conference the conference fee is usually waived, encouraging speakers to attend the entire event including other speakers’ sessions. NALC is organized with three tiers of sessions: Emerging ERG Leaders, ERG Program Managers, and Experienced ERG Leaders. Employee Resource Groups are groups that facilitate the development and engagement of employees and are usually centered on a common interest or affinity shared by its members such as a women’s group, LGBT group, etc. As I have been in the field of diversity and inclusion for many, many years I find that it is rare that I learn something new at conferences. I was pleasantly surprised and happy that I attended all of the sessions at NALC that I could since I did learn new things. I learned from the seasoned presenters, from the panelists at my session and other sessions and from the other conference participants while practicing what I preach about listening and learning as critical elements of inclusion. One has to be open to listening – really listening or actively listening – to someone regardless of whether they have less experience in one’s field or are a competitor if one wants to really learn something new.

 

Reach & Teach

 

My dear friends Craig Wiesner & Derrick Kikuchi give all of us who are hungry for new information lots to fill up on with their company Reach & Teach! Reach And Teach, the peace and social justice learning company, is helping to transform the world through teachable moments. We offer books, games, puzzles, toys, curriculum, music, posters, DVDs, maps, and other products for people of all ages.” Reach & Teachhas been an online business since 2004 and they are about to move into their new location @ 144 West 25th Avenue, San Mateo, CA. (In case you are fortunate enough to be in the area!) Going into Craig & Derrick’s shop is an amazing experience! Craig & Derrick’s love of learning is contagious and the two of them come at you with an array of books, games, origami, and some of the best puzzles around. It is always difficult for me to tear myself away from the wonderland of inclusive learning that they have created!


Learn from Everyone!

I recommend that we try to be open to learning from everyone, not just the ‘expert’ at the front of the room, but from everyone in the room and those who are not in the room, too. We even have the opportunity to learn from those who may not be inspired or curious, those who are “here just to set up the training room.” We have the opportunity to learn from the person squished in next to us on the subway, and on line in front of us at the supermarket, and from the marginalized in all places in society. Who have you learned from today?

 

 

 

Do One Thing!

The Invitation
Many of you live what would be considered multicultural  or intercultural lives as people who love to travel the world; eating foods of all types; soaking in the wonders of cultural institutions providing bridges to other worlds, often within our own neighborhoods; and of course, having relationships with many people from many cultures.  So, your responses to my invitation to “Do One Thing” in celebration of World Day for Cultural Diversity and Dialogue Development, which is today, May 21st have been very interesting.

A few of you thanked me for the reminder to be mindful and intentional in your quest to do one thing for diversity and inclusion today; a few of you committed to doing one thing today or this week and letting me know what that thing is after it is done; and a few of you shared recent experiences:

Some Responses
“I have been meaning to pick up Chaim Potok’s The Chosen  forever, and started last night.”

“I have a letter that I will scan to you when I get a chance.  Our Muslim neighbor sent it to  their neighbors, very well written, explaining who they are (in detail), about their religion and their attitude about the Boston bombings, etc., and their concern about what our attitude might be.  I haven’t responded yet, but intend to do so.”

” … a Chinese artist visiting and we struck up a conversation. His English was far better than my Mandarin. We talked about a Chinese artist I had seen in Washington, D.C. at a Hershorn exhibit, about a Korean artist I had seen in Seattle, about the differences between how English and Chinese poetry is conceptualized, about the proper way to prepare a Chicago hot dog. I was reading a book on the history of Chicago and he compared it with the history of Shanghai. A large unknowable world became smaller and grew handles. The skin around my uniqueness began to breathe.”

Multicultural
I am always thinking about how our cultures rub off on each other, how we cannot undo the impact that others have on us, how indelibly we are marked by the sound of unfamiliar music, the taste of unusual cuisine, the colors of unexplored terrains, the scent of new places, the challenge of speaking a foreign language, the feeling of exotic fabric on our skin.  That is what makes this day so wonderful!  This invitation to do something that for me, at least, is so much fun.  I must admit, it is a challenge to do one thing today as I usually do multiple things for diversity and inclusion.  So, I thought, ‘how can I convey my message of being multicultural to you?’
 
I have decided to share one of my favorite poems.  This poem is one that I have shared with some of you before as it is an excellent expression of what many people like me experience being members of multiple cultures.  Please let me know what you think and what you have done on this special day!

 
Child of the Americas
I am a child of the Americas,
a light-skinned mestiza of the Caribbean,
a child of many diaspora, born into this continent at a crossroads.
I am a U.S. Puerto Rican Jew,
a product of the ghettos of New York I have never known.
An immigrant and the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants.
I speak English with passion: it’s the tongue of my consciousness,
a flashing knife blade of cristal, my tool, my craft.
I am Caribeña, island grown. Spanish is my flesh,
Ripples from my tongue, lodges in my hips:
the language of garlic and mangoes,
the singing of poetry, the flying gestures of my hands.
I am of Latinoamerica, rooted in the history of my continent:
I speak from that body.
I am not African. Africa is in me, but I cannot return.
I am not taína. Taíno is in me, but there is no way back.
I am not European. Europe lives in me, but I have no home there.
I am new. History made me. My first language was Spanglish.
I was born at the crossroads
and I am whole.
Taino
Cemi del Mar
Indigenous Puerto Rican People
Deity of the Sea

  
Aurora Levins Morales
1986


 
 

[Please enter your comments below so that others can benefit by them, not just me. ;-)] 

 

An Invitation

When people ask me what the difference is between the words diversity and inclusion I explain that diversity is a statement of fact, (think of the diverse group of objects on your desk.), while inclusion is an action (placing the objects on the desk is necessary if they are to be included). We may be included in a group without being invited, but the most successful groups are those that are comprised of people who have been invited to participate because of what they potentially offer the group and who accepted the invitation because of what the group potentially offers them. (See my May 2nd blog entry, “Interdependence”) Think of the value an “A List” guest speaker brings to a conference or event.
We all want to be invited to the party, to the table, to the adventure! Once the invitation or job offer is accepted however, many organizational leaders fail to invite employees to make the most of their group membership. Think of the thousands of gym memberships that have gone virtually unused because the owners of the gyms failed to motivate their members to attend the gym regularly. The most successful leaders invite employees to contribute to their organization’s success on a continual basis and acknowledge those contributions publicly. This does not mean that every idea dropped in the ‘employee suggestion box’ has to be implemented. Those ideas need to be acknowledged, however, and if they are implemented, rewarded. When employees are invited to contribute to an organization’s innovation and success both the individual and the group can reach their full potential.
 
There have been many invitations asking us to contribute to one cause or another. Uncle Sam, for example, was first used as a recruitment tool for World War I in 1916. This image is still quite familiar to most Americans. The message is personal, pointing directly at YOU. A different call to action was when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. King invited us to participate in the greatest non-violent revolution in our nation’s history. His was not an exclusive invitation. He did not invite only the oppressed to stand up for their rights, as they had the most to directly gain by acquiring historically denied civil rights, but he invited all of us to contribute to creating a healthier, more productive, more peaceful nation regardless of the color of our skin or our abilities. What other invitations have inspired you to act?
 
An Invitation to ‘Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion’
Tuesday, May 21stis the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development and we are all invited to ‘Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion!
 
The 2013 campaign, by encouraging people and organizations from around the world to take concrete action to support diversity, aims:

 

  • To raise awareness worldwide about the importance of intercultural dialogue, diversity and inclusion.
  • To build a world community of individuals committed to support diversity with real and every day-life gestures.
  • To combat polarization and stereotypes to improve understanding and cooperation among people from different cultures.
 
 
The campaign works through a dedicated Facebook page, serving as a platform for people around the world to share their experiences through posts and videos.
Here are some things that you can do in response to this invite:

 

  • Invite people from another culture to share a meal with you & exchange views on life.
  • Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
  • Watch a movie, listen to music or read a book from another country or religion.
  • Read works by the great thinkers of other cultures (e.g. Confucius, Socrates, Avicenna,
    Ibn Khaldun, Aristotle, Ganesh, Rumi, or Frances Wright).
 
So, how will you respond to this invitation?
Share your experiences and learn more about this initiative on the UN’s Facebook page: Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion
 
I look forward to learning about your adventures in diversity and inclusion. Please let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below and of course, if you are planning to do one thing we would love to know about it.
 
By the way, I am always open to invitations!
 
Onward!
 
~ Wendy
 

 

 

Why Should You Ask?

What’s your story?
People love to tell their stories. However, they usually need to be asked to do so. Asking someone to share how they have acquired the knowledge and skills that help them to thrive in their work – outside of the professional and academic arenas – gives them an opportunity to tell you their story. It also gives you valuable information about a person’s transferable skills and competencies – information that may not be included on their resume. They may have learned how to manage teams successfully by helping a parent to raise their younger siblings; or they may have learned how to crunch numbers by helping at a grandparents shop. You can help people to provide this information by asking them to share their ‘distance traveled.’ It might be easier for you to ask these questions of others if you begin by recalling the distance that you have traveled. What have your experiences outside of the workplace or school taught you that helps you to thrive at work?
 
If only I had asked sooner!
 
A director of sales for a Fortune 50 company approached me and shared concerns that she had regarding an employee who had been in her department for seven years and was terrific in his capacity as an administrator. She said that his coworkers respected and trusted him and that he was highly competent, knew the business and had an incredibly positive attitude. The employee told the director that he wanted to be promoted into a sales title. He felt that he was ready for this move and had shown that he deserved it. The director confided in me that she did not think that he would be successful in sales as he had a very heavy Spanish accent. I asked her if she was aware of accent reduction classes which have become common. She had not, but explained that she was afraid that the employee might be insulted if she suggested that he take one of those classes. I asked her what kind of training the sales people were required to take and she cataloged several topics, including “Effective Communication.” I asked her if any of the other employees were insulted when she told them that they would have to take these classes in order to be promoted and she said, “Absolutely not!” They were excited about the opportunity and grateful. I explained to her that my father had a heavy Spanish accent and that I believe he would have taken an accent reduction class if one had been available to him. I recommended that she speak with the employee as they had a long term relationship. We ran through several practice conversations. Six months later she called me to tell me that the employee had taken the classes, was promoted, and in addition to being very successful with existing customers, he was expanding their client base by reaching out to Spanish speaking business owners in the territory. She said, “If only I had asked you about this sooner!” She was not thinking about numbers. She was not thinking about quotas. She was thinking about her mission – which was to sell.
 
Asking for and sharing ‘distance traveled’ stories contributes to the creation of an inclusive environment. Learning how an employee’s background can be an asset also encourages inclusion. An inclusive environment can be sustained if these approaches are integral elements of an organization’s culture.
 
Please let us know what you think about this by sharing your comments below!
 
Onward,
 
~ Wendy
www.inclusionstrategy.com
 
 

Interdependence

Independence is highly valued in American culture. Our independence from England, the independence of thought expressed by our right and responsibility to vote, the independence of a capitalist system where consumers choose which products to buy, and the independence to live and work where we choose. Interdependence takes our ability to act and think independently to the next level.
 
In the workplace interdependence is an essential element of success. Success is indicated by productivity, employee engagement, (how happy people are at work), and market share. For many years management and leadership theory articulated interdependence in industrial environments, picture Lucy and Ethel on the assembly line, for example. Employees in white collar positions, those higher up in the organizational ranks, were encouraged to be loyal to the company, but practice ‘healthy competition’ with their co-workers. This is illustrated in a somewhat extreme way in the play, “Glengarry, Glen Ross,” where the employees are made to compete for sales in order to keep their jobs.” This method of managing people to be competitive is often used when there is a commission, but not uniquely. At one of my prior employers, for example our bonuses were based on both our performance and the company’s quarterly profits. The employee evaluation system forced department heads to give only one employee the highest possible rating, thus a higher bonus. This inevitably resulted in a competitive attitude toward co-workers, even though in our department our success was not measured by the number of clients or dollars earned by the organization. This method of managing people discouraged collaboration and interdependence. When I was in graduate school there were several people in my program who were highly competitive. They would not share ideas until they did so with a professor, to assure that they would get credit for thinking brilliant thoughts. I was competing with myself to achieve more intellectually than I had ever done before in my life not my fellow students. The lack of trust by many students and some professors’ inability to encourage a free exchange of ideas among the students resulted in an unhealthy type of competition!
 
People like to be interdependent. I have long been a person who loves helping others. I enjoy being needed and am the ‘go to’ person when out with friends and someone needs a bandage, or an aspirin, or etc. One of the greatest things that I have learned however was not how to help, but to let others help me. Interdependence eliminates feelings of guilt or of owing the other person when they help you as you know that you will be helping them sooner or later. What is even better about interdependence is that what two people come up with when they collaborate is not twice as good as what one person can come up with on their own, it is exponentially better! I know that working interdependently will help me to create something better than I can on my own and so do my colleagues!
 
Strategic planning sessions are interdependent group exercises. Oh, I can come up with a plan on my own, even a pretty good one, but that plan will be created from my perspective, based on my experiences and knowledge and competencies. When I participate in an interdependent strategic planning session, everyone’s perspectives, experiences, knowledge and competencies are included equally in the process and the results are alwaysmuch, much better.
 
I am an idea woman. I have all kinds of creative, fun ideas every day. I love having new ideas and imagining them being put into action. Again, if I operate on my own, what I have may be a good idea or a great idea, possibly even a revolutionary idea, but without the interdependent experience of sharing and examining that idea with others it cannot be as good, great or revolutionary.
 
People, strategies and ideas are alwaysbetter when we collaborate with others. We cannot successfully collaborate with others unless we understand that we are interdependent. That does not mean that we understand or agree with everything that everyone says, does or thinks. It means that we allow different thoughts, ideas and perspectives to influence us by being open to who is sharing them. This is why I chose the light bulb with the gears as an image for my website. The gears represent our interdependence, the bulb the resultant, amazing idea!

 

 
There is an international movement to make people aware of our global interdependence. The short film, “A Declaration of Interdependence” by The Moxie Institute does so beautifully!
http://letitripple.org/a-declaration-of-interdependence/

 

 
Onward!

 

 
~ Wendy

 

 
 

Introducing Inclusion Strategy

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!

Onward!

Wendy Amengual Wark

April 25, 2013
www.inclusionstrategy.com