2020… a year that will forever be remembered. In so little time 2020 has taught society so much, and already catapulted our nation and world into action that must continue. We are living in a crash course in empathy, diversity, history, and have landed at a destination where the need for systemic and concrete changes is more apparent than ever. While prior decades we have also offered lessons in racism and diversity, 2020 has directly motivated society to apply ourselves in order to make long awaited, true, and honest change. There is no longer room for excuses, we must make concrete and systemic change to address racism, and all forms of discrimination head-on.
To make a change, we need to start from within. We need to look at our social circles, our workplace environments, and within our homes. We must get comfortable with being uncomfortable because these conversations are essential to make an effective change.
The most important tool in navigating any conversation especially conversations about diversity and inclusion is to simply listen. Not just any listening, but active listening. Your intent for listening should never be just to respond, and should not dismiss others’ lived experiences, both of these tactics are not only condescending, but also unproductive. When all conversation participants intend to learn and listen, and take those goals seriously, productive change is catalyzed.
Diversity and inclusion are topics where ignorance is no longer bliss. Every single person in our lives has a story and has walked a different path. When we aim to understand and empathize with one another, we go beyond listening. We are making the active effort to understand that “Yes, racism is an issue in modern society,” and “yes, I want to be part of the change.” While learning from one another and the hundreds of resources available to us, we become more aware of the crucial component in all conversations…Empathy, and ultimately, turning empathy into productive action for systemic change.
The conversation is just the beginning, it is not the final destination. However, for change to be effective we must invest in it. Not just money, but time and effort. Nothing will happen at the drop of a hat. We must reflect at every level of ourselves and organizations by continuing to have conversations and implementing a systemic transformation.