We stand at a pivotal moment in American history, one when there is an opportunity to correct massive injustice, dismantle the structures of systemic racism, and co-create a new future where all people can have true freedom, equal rights, and equal opportunities for a life of safety and prosperity.
Businesses are rightly being called to take meaningful action towards racism and that includes the policies they put in place to have more diverse and inclusive workplaces. We invited today’ guest on the show to share his wisdom about what we as business leaders can do to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Willie Jackson is a keynote speaker, consultant, and facilitator at ReadySet who helps leaders and organizations advance vital conversations that unlock connections across differences. His belief in the transformative power of media to change narratives led him to found Abernathy, a magazine for black men backed by companies like Mailchimp, Atlassian, and WeWork. Willie served as Founding Technical Lead of Seth Godin’s altMBA program for high-performing individuals who want to level up and lead. Willie is an avid houseplant aficionado and loves to spread the gospel of self-watering planters whenever possible.
COVID-19 has highlighted and put stress on numerous structural inequities, and it’s clear that some groups of people have been hit harder than others by the economic downturn. Willie explains why this is partly the result of a lack of workplace diversity. While lack of diversity is seldom intentional, it can be intentionally addressed. To that end, Willie shares his advice for engaging people in change-making conversations.
Willie urges business leaders to embrace their sense of curiosity. Getting to know people with different experiences than you in an empathetic manner will lead to positive change. If there’s something that makes you uncomfortable, investigate that discomfort and see what it has to offer.
It takes work to diversify your workforce, but it's important work. It will lead to having a variety of perspectives, increased market opportunities, and a workforce more representative of the world we want to create.
How can you foster empathetic conversations in your workplace? Let us know in the comments on the episode page!
In this episode
- The many societal disparities that the covid pandemic has exposed
- Why functional segregation exists and leads to a lack of workplace diversity
- Advice for engaging in difficult conversations
- How to help people lean into empathy
- Where to look for insight into unfamiliar life experiences
- The power of storytelling to foster empathy and increased trust
- Common implicit biases to be aware of
“I think of COVID as an accelerant. It puts additional pressure on friction points that already exist in society.” [2:31]
“There’s a different lens that has to be brought to bear when you think about how we’re representing the cities in which we live. How are we representing the societies we want to see? And how are we bringing into our teams and organizations a diversity of perspectives, bodies, and lived experiences?” [5:35]
“When we make the time and space to genuinely ask somebody, and listen to what they have to say, I think it can add some powerful richness and dimensionality to all of our relationships. Simply the act of getting curious.” [22:40]
“We all have blind-spots and we can make a mess of things even and especially when we’re trying.” [35:52]
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
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