Our Culture has accepted two huge lies

Joel Lesko
May 26, 2020

“Our Culture has accepted two huge lies:  
The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.  
The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe, say or do.  
Both are NONSENSE.
You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
Dave Chappelle:

Simply put, inclusion is
the right thing from a social justice point of view
the right thing to increase communication > collaboration > innovation
the right thing to attract and retain employees
the right thing Period.

How to do IT is THE question. How to create an inclusive workplace that works?

Since you’re here, I’m going to assume that you’re not only interested in diversity and inclusion,  you’re already working on making it happen. Maybe you’re here looking for a solution to a specific workplace issue, or have been tasked to find training material for the next lunch-n-learn. Whatever the reason, I’m glad you’re here ~ I hope to meet you soon.

For the past 25 years, I’ve been a filmmaker, facilitator and coach with a burning passion to help people and organizations uncover and express more of their potential. I gravitated to diversity and inclusion work (D&I) because of my upbringing in the 60’s and 70’s and because it became painfully clear to me that people suffer greatly in toxic workplaces.

When I started producing video training programs, I wanted to help people and organizations do the right thing: the social justice rationale for D&I. It was valid then and it still is. The next advancement was the argument that there was a business case for diversity. Thankfully, today, that’s a foregone conclusion: to compete and innovate in today’s world, organizations must draw upon the intelligence and creativity of people as diverse as the world.

And so, today, it’s popular to say that diversity is good for business. I disagree. Why? Because diversity on its own is only half the story. Without inclusion, diversity is static and has less than half the impact, half the power. It’s like Butch without Sundance or Will without Grace. Or a burger without fries (salad without lemon and olive oil for you vegans). Diversity doesn’t fulfill the promise of the leadership potential of diversity and inclusion. Experience shows that diversity is activated by inclusion. Inclusion is a catalyst that creates something more than the sum of 2 elements. As one of my co-creators, Steve Robbins, likes to say, “Diversity has sometimes been about counting people. Inclusion is about making people count.” (see our program, Inclusion Insights for more about this!)

In today’s workplace, it’s clear that inclusion is lagging far behind diversity. The reason is also clear: it’s a lot harder to create an inclusive workplace than it is to have a diverse workplace.

So, what I’m passionate about is exploring the context for inclusion which activates the power of diversity. I would love to hear from you how it’s hard for you and your organization to make your workplace inclusive. Are you aware of the ways your workplace is actually NOT inclusive? Do you have policies and procedures that systemically include all your employees equitably?  And for me, most importantly, what do you think about your culture? What’s the day-in/day-out feel? Do people feel welcomed? Do they feel encouraged and inspired to bring their whole self to work? That’s the true test of inclusion for me. Could your workplace “handle” it when people bring all of their passion, interest, curiosity, etc?

Let’s begin a conversation.

The programs I’ve created have been used with great results in tens of thousands of workplaces and across a wide range of industries. Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts is a great place to start. It gives people tools to speak up, and these tools can apply to issues around bias and stereotypes as well as other workplace challenges. Defeating Unconscious Bias is about how to identify and disrupt biases that you have, that get in the way when you’re not even aware of them. So, check out the programs. Consider the goal and assess where you are. I’d love to have a conversation. It would be an honor to be part of your work.

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