The ABCs of diversity and inclusion

A is for acknowledgment. Working toward an inclusive organization involves acknowledging that different styles exist and that different approaches can be equally valid and effective.

A is for appreciation. Acknowledgment is an important first step, but an inclusive organization goes beyond tolerance of different styles to appreciation of the diverse talents of all its members.

A is for action. Appreciation on its own is not enough. We need to take an active role in shaping an environment that offers the space for the diverse talents of all to flourish.

 

B is for breadth. Working toward an inclusive organization involves realizing the benefits of being broad-minded and open to the full range of knowledge, skills and abilities that a diverse workforce presents.

B is for belonging. When we see differences, we need to move to an inclusive outlook where all the breadth that is present is seen as a reason for belonging, rather than an excuse for exclusion, distancing or distrust.

B is for bravery. We can believe in the value of others, however without the bravery point out when that value is being dismissed or people are being asked to compromise parts of themselves to belong, the inconsistency of our words and our deeds will sap our energy.

 

C is for conscious. Working toward an inclusive organization involves becoming conscious of privilege and marginalization and the organization structures that perpetuate these status differences.

C is for curiosity. Awareness on its own can make diversity and inclusion seem like someone else’s problem. We need to get curious about our personal diversities and how we are privileging or marginalizing aspects of our multi-faceted selves.

C is for creative. Once we open ourselves up to the wondrous variety within and without, we have the engagement needed to create new ways of being and working that promote wholeness and acceptance.

 

To do diversity work well, make no assumptions, do your best and see the best in others and be compassionate because becoming more inclusive is a process.

 


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The Diversity Dividend by Katherine W Hirsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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The ABCs of diversity and inclusion

Connecting within and without

I turn again this week to Miriam Greenspan’s Healing through the Dark Emotions for what it suggests about how we can best approach the processing of painful feelings.

When we experience fear, grief and despair, many of us tend to hold back from sharing these emotions. This silence can help us to discover what is at the core of our pain. With time to ourselves, we can delve into how what has happened treads on basic values or re-activates old wounds. We can start to decode the messages our pain has for us. Off on our own, we can wrestle with how much we hurt without worrying about needing to put a good face on things. Time alone can be a crucial part of the healing process.

Alternatively, silence can seem the only safe way forward. We may believe that we will burden others with what we are experiencing. We may imagine that speaking with them will only intensify our pain through encountering a lack of understanding or empathy. We may be concerned that admitting our brokenness will cause us to be shunned, shamed or belittled. This sort of silence can hinder rather than help our healing.

“Emotional alchemy is not only a process of going deeper, it’s also a process of getting wider—telling a wider story, recontextualizing your private, personal pain. The wider we get, the more our dark emotions connect us to the world and the more we grow in wisdom and compassion.” p. 85

Engaged in thoughtfully, going deeper can facilitate your healing and help you grow as an individual. However, it may also serve as a substitute for looking at the broader meaning of your feelings, circumstances and experiences. We all want to feel that our story is unique and yet focusing on this uniqueness may obscure our options for action. We can derail our healing if we fail to acknowledge the way our narrative is shaped by the world around us. Becoming conscious of the bigger picture can also help us to be more self-compassionate.

“The single greatest barrier to…healing and transformation is not really…traumatizing events themselves but…isolation. This isolation…is not so much a failure of the individual to find community as it is a failure of the human community to offer connection to the individual.” p. 212

Let’s begin to think about emotions as being a bit like breathing. That is, think about how can you cycle between taking them in and then out again: Connecting with yourself, connecting with others, understanding the personal nature of your pain, understanding the universal nature of your pain. If you can connect with others – when you or they are in pain – and at the same time deepen your connection to self, you can transform isolation into enlightenment.


 

Miriam Greenspan. (2003). Healing through the dark emotions. The wisdom of grief, fear, and despair. Boston: Shambala.
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The Diversity Dividend by Katherine W Hirsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Connecting within and without

The landscape of healing

This week I want to introduce to my next Inspiration Shout-Out — Healing through the Dark Emotions by Miriam Greenspan. The book’s message is one of hope and wholeness, for the individual as well as for the wider world. It focuses on the alchemy that is possible when we embrace our emotions in all their diversity and all their fullness.

“Dark emotions don’t go away. They simply come to us in whatever form we can bear.”
p. 27

In 2007, I was very afraid. After a number of inconclusive tests, I was due to have surgery. No one could tell me what the surgery would entail, but one possible outcome was that cancer would be discovered and I’d require extensive surgery and a long recovery period, likely to be followed by some sort of additional treatment. Luckily, no cancer was found and the operation was very positive in physical terms.

The emotional landscape had been changed, however. While both grief and despair surfaced, it was the fear that remained most acute. Not having cancer was indeed a relief, and yet I wasn’t relieved of the fear that I was not really in control. From the fear that my body would betray me (again), blossomed a fear of failure and incompetence. Being unable to think my way out of my medical issues scared me into believing that I might also be unable to think my way out of other challenging life situations.

“You don’t surrender by moving away from what hurts. You surrender by moving into what hurts, with awareness as your protection. This is not ‘detachment’ in the conventional sense; it’s a connected detachment: staying connected to emotional energy mindfully. The detachment comes from being mindful, not from disconnecting.”
p. 78

To heal I had to come to grips with a new understanding of the world, namely that sometimes the only “rational” explanation is that there is no explanation. There is no thought process or logic that can save you. Even coming as it did after years of managing chronic health issues, years of needing to ask for and gratefully accept help, this was and remains a hard lesson to integrate.

As with feelings so with other aspects of our inner lives: we need to surrender to their existence, we need to make them personal without taking them personally. The fear, the pain, the suffering were mine, yes, but seeing them as an affront or as an attack on me personally would have moved me away from, rather than toward, greater awareness and connection. When we can stop attempting to “handle” our dark emotions and instead try to listen to them with an open heart, when we can embrace them as a message about our health and wholeness, we have new energy to channel into becoming our true selves.

 


Miriam Greenspan. (2003). Healing through the dark emotions. The wisdom of grief, fear, and despair. Boston: Shambala.

Creative Commons License
The Diversity Dividend by Katherine W Hirsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The landscape of healing