Director IT Business Consulting, Scottsdale Insurance Company
The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.
Inclusion day has to be one of the most personal and engaging classes we’ve had during Class 26. The topics reached everyone in the class, the dialog was free flowing and the class expressed an amazing amount of trust and respect for each other as we spoke frankly about our beliefs and ourselves.
Thank you, Marion Kelly, Class 17 and Doreen Reinke, Class 17 for designing, hosting and delivering such a compelling course. They started the day by framing a mindset of inclusion. Inclusion is an action you take to respect and make positive outcomes of diversity. We all learned that everyone profiles in some way during the profiling exercise. Sometimes that is OK, sometimes it is not. We also learned about the diversity in our class. I listened to my classmates share who they are. From a too-white Hispanic to an agnostic Jew some of my subconscious preconceptions of those neat little society-defined categories were broken down. Diversity showed it is a continuum of nuances created by our culture, our experiences and our beliefs – not a discrete set of check boxes on the census form.
It was a special treat to have Terri Trent facilitate a lesson on inclusive leadership. She helped us focus on our emotional intellect or EQ. Leaders who are self and socially aware, that can use that insight to manage themselves and associate well with others tend to be more successful. Perhaps Mike Miller said it more plainly; ‘leadership = influence’. Applying your emotional intellect will affect your influence. The iceberg analogy also came up and was used a couple times during the day to illustrate what defines us and our most influential characteristics are those that are unseen and under the waterline.
After lunch we learned about the great work our sponsor of the day does with the Community Celebrating Diversity organization. Thank you for sponsoring and thank you for contributing to our community in such a positive way.
Next Jeff Jameson helped us all gain perspective as we circled around the random representative ‘minority’ class members. Being one of the minorities in the middle of the room surrounded by the majority both staring at and ignoring me, I felt it. And it did not feel comfortable. How did it feel to be in the ‘majority’? Did you get see it any differently on the outside looking in?
The late afternoon sessions were an outright hit with the class. We did not want them to end. I’ve never felt the class so engaged before. We each stood up in front of the class and expressed what diversity we embodied – handsome glasses wearers, east town dwellers, married, not married, young, and other personal identities. I felt closer to my class and more enlightened by the time we reluctantly ended the exercise.
Then we explored some of the darker side of diversity in the ‘hate, fear and profiling’ exercise. We looked at headlines and discussed current and past events that are best described more exclusive than inclusive. I was especially struck by Don Logan’s story about being letter bombed. I think it was the statement that we were watching a video of his presentation because we wanted to leave him alone right now amid the tensions around the Zimmerman/Martin shooting that made it all feel very real, here and now to me.
This blog does not do justice to the lessons we learned that day. But I wanted to be sure to share with everyone a flavor for the day and appreciation for the day chairs, sponsors and speakers. I leave you with a summary of the lessons I learned.
- Diversity is a noun. It is important that we use nouns to recognize and describe. Inclusion is a verb. It is taking action with diversity and progressing.
- Leadership equals influence; anybody can be a leader in any organization. Being aware of yourself and others then using that awareness to guide your behaviors and respectfully interact with others can further your influence.
- Diversity and inclusion creates tension. We aspire to be inclusive yet, at the same time strive to maintain a unique identity of a culture or group. It can be a Catch 22. It is not simple.
- The problem is here, now and you may contribute to the problem or the solution. Evidence abounds in letter bombings and profiling stories. We shared how we felt an “out rage of affiliation” with how some of our leaders address diversity. We recognized a trend of erosion of respect in politics and society. We thought there must be a “silence of people with good will”.
- The leader’s responsibility to the solution is to cast a shadow and cascade an inclusive perspective. Use those teachable moments with other people to let them know some behaviors are not OK. Walk the talk. Light a candle as an individual to create a more inclusive society.
What does inclusion mean to you?