By Mary-Frances Winters, CEO of The Winters Group, Inc. and Founder, Inclusion Allies Coalition
This week our hearts are heavy. While we certainly cannot fully understand the pain and trauma experienced by those directly impacted by the acts of violence in Dayton, OH, and domestic terrorism in El Paso, TX, we mourn with those families and communities. Enough is enough.
For 35 years, The Winters Group, Inc. has worked with organizations and individuals to promote inclusion and to educate, in hopes of disrupting unfair, inequitable systems that have prevented certain groups from reaching their full potential—systems that have excluded, discriminated, and even perpetrated violence against subordinated groups. These are the very groups that are constantly under vile attacks by the current “leader of the free world.” Black and Latinx people, women, Muslims and Jews, and many others have all endured the wrath of President Trump’s racist, xenophobic, sexist, Islamophobic rhetoric. His words are hateful and harmful to many people. His words incite violence, as we saw this weekend in El Paso. His words represent the antithesis of inclusion. His presidency serves as a representation of the vast inequities that exist in our country; therefore, this is the time to educate and to call to action the government and the corporate world to alleviate the pain that people in these communities endure.
As CEO of The Winters Group, I appeal to leaders, advocates, and anyone who claims to be a champion for inclusion, equity, and justice to speak up now.
I meet with leaders in major corporations on a daily basis—people who espouse to be champions for equity and inclusion. The reason that organizations focus on inclusion is that they recognize that inequities continue to exist: that people of color are not equitably represented in their organizations, that women continue to experience harassment, and that other groups, such as people who identify as LGBTQIA and people with disabilities, also do not yet experience equity. These organizations recognize that there is a compelling business case for addressing these issues. They want to attract and retain top talent; they want the innovation that emanates from inclusive practices and they want to increase their customer base by appealing to different ethnic groups.
Corporations that are recognized as best places to work for different demographic groups or that are on lists such as the DiversityInc Top 50 have initiatives to educate employees on valuing and respecting differences, as well as initiatives to enhance cultural competence and effectively bridge differences. Companies do this not only because it is the moral and just thing to do, but also because it is the best thing to sustain their competitive advantage. I call on corporate leaders to please speak up for inclusion. Employees come to work every day and cannot do their best work if they live in fear—if their very identities are under attack. So, for the sake of living up to your organization’s values, it behooves you to speak up.
I imagine employees want their leaders to take a stand. Many younger employees today want to work for companies that are socially responsible and value human dignity. If you are reading this and you oversee D&I in your organization, appeal to your leaders to speak out in the name of inclusion.
What can you do?
- Send a formal communication that reaffirms your commitment to equity, inclusion, and justice. Articulate your stance FOR inclusion, while also communicating your stance against hateful, exclusive rhetoric.
- Expand your DEI curriculum to include education on historical inequities, understanding systems, and –isms—all of which influence the neighborhood conditions that the President has talked about.
- Leverage external facilitators that specialize in facilitating conversations on race and other polarizing topics to create spaces for dialogue about their lived experiences and the impact this climate has on them. Psychological safety is a requisite to achieving a culture of inclusion.
- Reach out to elected officials to denounce the President’s hateful, racist rhetoric. Let them know they will not be re-elected if they do not speak out against it.
- Identify local organizations within your community and organization’s footprint that are actively involved in addressing inequity in order to build alliances and support their efforts. Encourage your employees to do the same.
We cannot stay silent. You cannot stay silent. We must use our platforms, influence, and power, and encourage others to do the same. Too much is at risk. Our work and lives depend on US.
Please leave your responses/comments in the green comment box below and let us know your personal commitment and what your organization might be doing to respond.