Act Boldly and S.E.R.V.E.

By Dr. Cherry Collier Senior Consultant, Diversity & Inclusion Specialist On the background of the unfortunate killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks and many others whose stories have not made it to mainstream media, it is now more important than ever to appreciate the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity and take action to contribute to an inclusive and just society. We are in the midst of two widespread pandemics, both of which are making it hard for everyone to breathe. We have charted a plan for the leaders and pioneers of this era to help others breathe. But as a leader, you must learn to put on your oxygen mask first. As an Inclusion Strategist and Master Certified Coach, I’d like to educate you on the concept and components of JEDI – Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion which are the focal points for envisaging a fair, diverse, and inclusive society. There is also so much to learn from developing a Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan (DISP) that leads the way for promoting and nurturing an all-embracing community. Have you heard of a term called ‘unconscious bias’? Unconscious bias refers to the stereotypes that individuals form about a particular group of people unknowingly or without conscious awareness. It is also a kind of prejudice and can be positive or negative. It influences people’s behavior right from classrooms to huge organizations. If negative unconscious bias in day-to-day activities could cause great suffering and anguish among people that can impact hiring, onboarding, development, performance appraisals that may lead to potential racial discrimination. This could deter the growth and development of a fair and equitable workplace. Did you know that in the U.S, black workers are twice as likely to be unemployed as white workers overall? According to the Economic Policy Institute, even black workers with a college degree are more likely to be unemployed compared to similarly educated white workers. We have seen study after study that shows how ethnic names and pictures on resumes of comparable candidates result in selecting and rating the white candidate more positively (view source). We’re very familiar with the prevalence of extensive discrimination and social bias and yet we haven’t always been aware of how cognitive biases hijack our every day thinking and cloud our vision.  Now, is the time to act boldly and ‘SERVE’ selflessly to envision the future of an all-inclusive, impartial, and fair workplace. What does it truly mean to SERVE? S – STOP responding automatically and mindlessly, as I quote in my book ‘Stop, Look and Listen: Exploring the Human Condition’. Break the patterns. Before responding to any situation or circumstance, stop, pause, and explore the reasons and feelings associated with those responses. E – EMPATHIZE with everyone and try to understand the situation from their perspective. Instead of using the Golden Rule “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them”. Use the Platinum Rule: “Get to know others and find out how they want to be treated.” Ask. Don’t assume. R – RESPECT racial, cultural, ethnic, and social differences of one another. After all, each one possesses a unique and distinct background that offers great platforms for people to learn, inspire, and grow together. V – VALUE people’s perspectives and outlook. Respect other people’s model of the world. Value people’s opinions and provide them an opportunity to give voices to their part of the story. It’s an important contributor to the comprehensive development of an entity. As my colleague, Rick Stone says, “We all have a story.” Allow space for it to be shared. E – ESTABLISH the core ideas of equality and unity. The journey to an all-inclusive community doesn’t stop at acquiring knowledge on ways and means to establish them. It is as important to establish and promote the ideas of inclusion as to spreading awareness on the ideas of diversity and inclusion. The time to act is NOW. Let’s vow to make the place we live a better one for all people from different cultural, ethnic, religious, racial, and social backgrounds. As I always believe, ‘we’re better together’!