As the year comes to a close, I am taking the time to critique my work as a leader and in particular an Inclusive Leader. I would encourage all of us to do the same.
In today’s market place the ‘right now’ imperative is often the one that drives our behavior, it drives our hiring practices, it drives who we invite to provide keynotes and, in fact, who we do not hire or ask to provide thought leadership. A year ago, we were inundated with thoughts, actions, papers, books, articles and webinars that were a part of the bucket of diversity and specifically race related offerings.
Today, one can find conference materials where the word ‘diversity’ let alone race, is scarcely mentioned. Why?
To be clear, I recognize that ‘diversity fatigue’ is a real thing. And yes, I do believe that for most of us diversity is a stand-in term for race. It is indeed hard, annoying and perhaps exhausting to keep up with the intensity that surrounds this work. I get it when leaders of all stripes discuss the challenge of engaging their teams around this race-related subject matter. It makes sense when team members express exasperation around the number of emails, videos or discussions happening that touch on race.
I wonder if there may be another approach that will allow us to build the muscles we need to engage in these challenging discussions but also allow us a respite from the tough, consistent and seemingly never-ending conversations around race.
I often speak about the Diversity, Inclusion and Bias (DIBs) Big 8 ™. These are the big boulders of diversity in our lives that take up a lot of space and if we were to change one or more, it would dramatically change how the world sees us and how we see the world.
None of these are light topics. All of them could be critical to who you are, who I am. Critical to the folks we team with, those we lead and those we follow.
For those of us who want to be, claim to be, desire to be or are working towards becoming an Inclusive Leader, I challenge you with the following: An Inclusive Leader ought to be able to lead well across the diversity spectrum beginning with the DIBs Big 8™; can you?
To the extent that you cannot, to the extent that we struggle to lead when the subject turns to (dis)ability or perhaps socioeconomics or another hard topic, this is where we can execute meaningful work that may not be race. There is no easy way to become an Inclusive Leader. There is only the hard path. But here’s the ‘good news’: You can build muscles to deal with the next race issue that will inevitably rear its ugly head, by executing work around the other DIBs Big 8™.
And when the time comes, as inevitably it will, you will be better prepared to lead not simply from the perspective of race but instead across the entirety of the diversity spectrum and call yourself an Inclusive Leader with all the pride and exhaustion that goes along with it.