The problem: “Black workers at UPS facility in Ohio faced decades of racial hostility, lawsuit says.” That’s a March, 2019 USA Today headline. “Survey reveals Canada still has a ways to go on workplace discrimination.” That quote is from the Globe and Mail, in case our Canadian audience thinks they have the high ground. Hey, let’s just admit we still have a lot of work to do on the complex challenges related to inclusion and equality. Even as I’m writing this blog, a CNN panel is noting that celebrity democratic candidate, Beto O’Rourke, ticked off a lot of women with his comment about his “thanking his for wife feeding the children at home.” So for the eye rollers out there who are tired of the topic, we DO need to continue the conversation.
Story: As I noted in my previous blog, we are all at different stages on the inclusion learning path relative to what being an Ally is. Garrett and I got some strong reactions relative to the topic. Two of our readers seem to be on different bends in the road. Reader 1: “I’m aware of the stories of people being mistreated and undervalued, but it would be a flat out lie if I’ve said I’ve ever seen it practiced or celebrated first hand. I’m lucky I haven’t been part of it, but it would be disingenuous for me to pretend I’ve seen it.” Reader 2: “To be a true ally, you have to be able to step out of your experience. You cannot say that just because you haven’t experienced it that it doesn’t exist or is a non-issue.”
What we can do about it?
I asked ATB Financial’s Rachel Wade, Director of Equity and Inclusion for her insight . She shares her wise recommendations:
- “By being open to feedback and criticism of how we’ve held others up or failed to do so. It’s easy to become defensive. Try to pause and take in the new perspective before rejecting it – even if it stings a little. If you have the urge to respond with something that sounds like, ‘Well, not all <<insert demographic>> people are like that…’ You probably need to reflect a little longer on the sentiment behind the feedback. You are likely being given this feedback because you belong to a group that enjoys the downstream effects of systemic privilege. This is your time to acknowledge this new information and be a true ally.
- While allies can stand up for others they should not presume to to be able to take on the first-person voice of groups they don’t belong to first-hand. Don’t look for a pat on the back for being a good ally and make room for disadvantaged groups to speak for themselves.
- We can belong to both privileged and disadvantaged groups at the same time – this is where the intersectionality of of our lived experience and diversity becomes layered. In some ways we may be in need of allies and in some ways we may be able to be strong allies. Being disadvantaged in one way doesn’t mean you opt out of understanding the disadvantages of other lived experiences.”
Each of us is the “other” at sometime in our lives. It’s important to remind ourselves. Thank you Rachel.
Think Big, Start Small, Act Now!
One Millennial View: Rachel’s insight says it best. I’m a person who likes to fix things, but I have to accept that there is no immediate remedy that’ll satisfy everyone. At least if there’s more awareness, then maybe it can reduce the anguish.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis