By Natalie Marsh
The Inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.
I have been to my fair share of diversity and inclusion trainings. They are timely topics given the shifting demographics of our country and they are issues of which many companies and nonprofits are keenly aware. These workshops typically take an external approach. For example, how might an organization better engage or be more inclusive of a particular group be it other generations, cultures, etc.? The answers may include a shift in a hiring practice, the use of a different marketing tool, or a new project; merely pivots to external processes. However, this day most surprised me because we looked inwardly and approached diversity and inclusion from a personal perspective. It was not treated as a separate or external issue that can be solved through a process shift, but one where the solution resides in us; through dialogue, listening and respect.
Using discussions and activities led by an amazing group of day chairs, we examined our visible and invisible traits that make each of us unique. Uncovering these qualities and experiences held by those in our own group allowed us to understand through personal stories how people have been marginalized or discriminated against because of those traits.
But at the same time, those uniqunesses are not unique. The activities, conversations and self-reflections also allowed us to connect to each other, thereby bonding us even closer as a group and demonstrating dialogue leads to connections more often than isolation.
Needless to say, this day helped us all build empathy, which is key to developing diversity-focused and inclusively-minded leaders.
A special thank you to our day chairs, Ernie Flores, Amir Dorn, L. Holley, MJ Hopper, Robert Houston and Bernadette Smith for leading us through tough conversations from gun rights to black lives matter, for taking us through a “privilege walk”, and guiding us through a day that will certainly shift how Class 33 grows together over the program.
Additional thanks to DC Ranch (link to https://www.dcranch.com/) for hosting us in their beautiful community center, our anonymous lunch donation, Jim Ford Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal Scottsdale Fire Department and board president of Community Celebrating Diversity (link to: https://www.ccdarizona.org/), and Stacy Cline from GoDaddy.
I feel humbled and honored to recap a very powerful, emotional and enlightening Diversity and Inclusion Day. This was a difficult summary to write because I do not feel that the words can really describe the impact these experiences will have on the formation of our class and within us in the long-term.