Using your network to advocate for social justice

 

As a man of color, I have been trying to figure out what I can do to impact social injustice directly.   Social injustice is a problem that is too big for us to solve by ourselves.   But if we all do our little part,  the additive value of our efforts will start making the difference. 

An excellent article on HBR this morning caught my attention.  How can we use the power of our network to start changing the world? 

I can see how powerful this process is.   I feel included and valued when I am invited to “the party” by people who are different.   

The concept is very simple, actually.   

A) We must include inner network individuals who are the targets of stereotyping and bias.  When we do,  we are signaling to them that diversity and equitable treatment are important values for us. And to others, we signal that we care about this issue and that we are open-minded and inclusive.   

B) When we hear an inappropriate comment, of course, seize the moment to speak out.  What to say? , say, “that comment is wrong” or “that comment is unacceptable”, you don’t have to justify it or defend your position.  Stating your belief will signal to others where do you stand.

C) But even if you are not there to witness it the moment, your inclusion of underrepresented colleagues in your network can empower them to speak out. 

I heard from someone that, diversity is when you are invited to a party,  inclusion is when you are asked to dance,  belonging is when you dance like you nobody is watching. 

The article goes into defining passive exclusion.  It must be countered with active inclusion. We must make an effort to bring women and racial minorities into our informal social network.  Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because we will learn a lot from people that are different from us. 

Want to do the right thing?  Consider becoming a leader that takes actionInclude your minority colleagues in informal meetings and discussions, whether they are focused on work or fun. The moment for Diverse and inclusive leadership is happening right now..  What leaders do today, will define how they will be seen in the future.  Thanks Alexis Ohanian.

And be curious about issues relevant to their work expertise (not just their identities).  Your curiosity will help uncover commonalities and ways you can learn from each other. 

Luis Velasquez MBA, PhD

Luis is a leadership coach, employee engagement expert, and management trainer. Formerly a University professor and research scientist, Luis holds a dual Ph.D. from Michigan State University; and an MBA in Organizational Leadership.

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