Why Inclusion Equals Courage in Leadership

Abundance Accountability Personal leadership Respect


Story: Many of you may not remember the tragic and heinous events that make up the Matthew Shepard saga. It’s been 20 years years, and the ashes of Shepard are just being laid to rest. Note the following from Michelle Boorstein of the Chicago Tribune:

When Matthew Shepard died on a cold night 20 years ago, after being beaten with a pistol butt and tied to a split-rail wood fence, his parents cremated rather than buried the 21-year-old, for fear of drawing attention to the resting place of a person who had become a global icon for combating anti-gay hate.

With the anniversary Friday of their son’s murder, the Shepards have decided to do just that, interring his remains inside the crypt of the prominent Washington National Cathedral, where gay-equality activists say they can be a prominent symbol and even a pilgrimage destination for the movement. Although the cause of LGBT equality has made historic advancements since Shepherd was killed, it remains divisive anew in many parts of a country re-embracing tribalism of all kinds.”

Key Point: It’s been 20 years since the horrific murder of Matthew Shepard, and yes, we have seen much progress regarding diversity and inclusion overall. However, as stated in the Tribune article, there also seems to be a re-embracing of tribalism. And that is troublesome.

Last blog we highlighted the call for leadership COURAGE. This is the time for acceptance and full inclusion of ALL of our human differences. We should be intolerant of hate or intentional harm towards others, while we accept AND embrace our human differences. These principles can exist in parallel. It is our individual uniqueness that adds to the optimum richness of any community. Diversity, as they say, is being invited to the party while inclusion is being asked to dance. And you know how important I believe it is to dance with each other. The last company I worked for introduced this value: “Courageously be yourself and a true ally for others. Together we can create a place where we can ALL belong.” 

Lead Yourself Move:

  1. Each of us has to show up and be our true selves. Being brave starts at a personal level. The concept of “closets” for hiding a part or most of us is not helpful. Courage is very personal. Inclusion is an antidote to loneliness. 

Lead Others Move:

  1. How do you create conditions for inclusion in your group? How do you teach others to be an ally? Be courageous and set the example. Declare your inclusion value! Never use words that hurt, including calling people names or mocking their behavior. For example, when the President of the United States calls a woman on Twitter “horseface,” or rudely mimics a reporter with a physical disability; he does not deserve to be in a leadership role. Attacking others at a personal level divides us all.

All others in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: This one made me think. If I’m being honest, I’m thankful to sincerely note I’ve only worked at places that embrace diversity and inclusivity. While it’s important to remember and acknowledge terrible events like Matthew Shepard’s murder, I wonder where the value is in suggesting a lot of people in 2018 are becoming so tribal. Where? My neighborhood is full of diverse residents that all wave to each other despite different socioeconomic standings and ethnicities. When away from the social media trolls and negative news, the birds are still chirping. If we’re being realistic, we know individuals will always fight, and mean words will be exchanged. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s understandable. When humans are trying to verbally hurt each other, abrasive language is used. However, I don’t believe we can let words between a couple individuals impact, divide, or influence entire groups. To me, that’s more dangerous than any word. There has been a ton of both legal and social progress since Shepard’s death in 1998. While it’s necessary to understand more work needs to be done, I think encouraging and celebrating the positive nature of most is a better way to bring people together.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis