I was leaving the gym this morning when I encountered a trio on the elevator. The young man looking down at sandal-clad feet said to me “my mother has bunions too.” His mother immediately shushed him and turned to apologize as I laughed and said and “she probably doesn’t like hers any more than I do mine, does she?” The mother said so sorry, he has autism and just says things.
My immediate reaction was there’s no need to apologize or explain; the beauty of our America is our diversity.
Then it struck me, that I could at that moment accept diversity, but there are certainly many times when I don’t as easily accept it. When my implicit biases get in the way for example. What I learned from Elizabeth Engel and Sherry Marts’ white paper, Include Is a Verb: Moving From Talk to Action on Diversity and Inclusion, is every single person has implicit bias and it’s a critical tool of our brains that allow humans to function in a complex world without being constantly baffled or overwhelmed. They quote D+I trainer Joe Gerstandt: “We are not responsible for our first thought, but we are responsible for our second thought and our first action. A lot of our personal power can be found in that space between our first and second thought.”
That personal power can be as simple as me engaging with the young man rather than ignoring or being rude. It can be as simple as not allowing the racist remark to go unchallenged.
I think the incident and this white paper are made more poignant in the context of today – July 4 and our current “events”. Let us embrace diversity and be inclusive. And let it begin with “me”. Need help on applying this personally and professionally? Download and read the white paper - free at http://bit.ly/2peWwP0. You'll find a comprehensive discussion, case studies and questions for reflection.
Let's continue to embrace all.