On the eve of Canada's first-ever National Day of Truth & Reconciliation, I can't help but think: it's been a long time coming – perhaps too long.
Let me start by positioning myself. Before establishing Boldly Inclusive, I have worked in various sectors and industries, but the non-profit sector was what I called home for a considerable portion of my career. One of my last in-house roles was in the child welfare sector, working in diversity, equity and inclusion and community engagement functions.
Since the start of the pandemic, incidents of anti-Asian hate have been increasing in frequency and severity. Violent acts of racism and xenophobia on the bus, while grocery shopping, while walking down the street, while sitting in a walker, and recently and devastatingly while working have become almost commonplace. Sadly, their public nature demonstrates the vulnerability of our brothers and sisters in the Asian community to harm and trauma – and we know this is especially true for women and seniors.
Years ago, back when I was job hunting, I had a set response to questions about my weaknesses:
I was a "recovering perfectionist." Risky, I know (I could sense the suppressed eye-rolls), but it was the truth. Until then, it was absolutely crucial that everything
I touched was delivered with exceptional quality, inspiring trust and leading to strong relationships. If I felt I was at risk of under-delivering, I would do everything necessary to reverse that, to exceed expectations and ensure the satisfaction of my clients and my supervisors. It was a huge weight to take on, and the pressure was immense. Ultimately, it slowed me down, and the result was that I was less agile. Recognizing this allowed me to search for approaches such as the 80/20 Rule, which allowed me to better manage my time without compromising outcomes.
What I always kept to myself was the reason why I’d unquestioningly taken on this burden. Just as many Black parents have to educate their sons about how to safely interact with authorities, many Black mothers have parallel conversations with the daughters about the societal perceptions of their race and gender. As a Black girl, we had to be three times as good to be considered equal. Mediocrity was not an option; exceptionality was survival.
As we all know, 2020 was not the year any of us had anticipated. From a raging pandemic to a global reckoning on race and injustice, we faced new and unexpected challenges but also new opportunities for building equity and inclusion.
A year ago, I gave you a list of the ten trends I hoped to see in the DEI field to drive meaningful and sustainable inclusion. In some cases, we have met expectations. In others, we have been lamentably stagnant. In our responsiveness to crises, we have also pushed the limits on what is possible, leading to new trends that will carry forward into how we shape our workplace communities.
Over the past month, it seems empathy has been top of mind for many of our clients. In a time like no other, when our emotional and mental health has been challenged in unprecedented ways, we need to be especially compassionate with one another. Indeed, we are presented with a unique opportunity to consider how inclusion can be both a process and an outcome. Any kind of change can be destabilizing – and this is particularly true in the context of COVID-19, as well as in the context of the present racial reckoning – so it is critical that empathy is central to any inclusion work we do.
For this reason, we will be sharing an article we wrote earlier this year for Charity Village, Empathy: A Key Ingredient In Effective Diversity, Equity And Inclusion. Here we reflect on empathy, including leading thinking on how we can be better empaths, and why it’s important for successful and sustainable DEI.
Click here to access the article.