I Want To Be A #ProInclusionist
Gloria Cotton is an inspiring thought leader, HR specialist, and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion expert with a personality that just draws you in like a big hug. I recently had the privilege of hearing her speak at a leadership summit on the topic of creating and leading cultures of conscious inclusion. I really resonated with her approach and found it to be remarkably consistent with our philosophy of Compassionate Accountability®. Gloria urged us to go beyond just being against inequity and injustice to become pro-inclusionists and take specific action to help people feel welcomed, valued, respected, heard, and understood.
Here are two insights I gained from this workshop, along with ways I can be a pro-inclusionist.
Privilege Is a Resource
My privilege as a white male is something I didn’t earn. At times I’ve felt ashamed or guilty about this, even though I can’t change it. It’s mine whether I like it or not. Gloria gave me permission to embrace privilege not as problem, but as a resource. Resourcefulness is one of the three Compassion Skills we teach in our Compassion Mindset and Leading out of Drama frameworks. Compassionate Accountability means being a good steward of resources, especially resources like knowledge, access, connections, experience, or credibility. This means not hoarding them, not manipulating with them, not abusing them, and not squandering them. Responsible use of resources means sharing them and applying them in ways that help all humans feel included, not just people like me. Count me in!
Knowing Isn’t a Prerequisite
I remember my first experience as a graduate intern in a dual-diagnosis (chemical addiction and mental illness) therapy group at a VA hospital. Several military veteran patients challenged my credibility, questioning how I could possibly help them since I didn’t have schizophrenia and I wasn’t an addict. I didn’t “know” what they had been through, so how could I help? I felt privileged and ashamed at the same time.
I supported my wife through the birth of three children, by her side each time, helping with lamaze breathing and emotional support. A few years after the birth of our second child I dislocated my hip in a boating accident at a rural lake far from the nearest hospital.
It was a rare, anterior dislocation. My hip was out of joint for almost 5 hours while the ambulance was called, we went to one rural hospital ER that wasn’t equipped to treat me, and then transported again to a larger hospital 30 miles away. Most of this time I was without any pain management, so I used the same lamaze breathing techniques to manage the excruciating pain. When the ordeal was over, I proudly told my wife that now I could relate to the pain of childbirth. Big mistake. She reminded me that while she had great empathy for my suffering, I still didn’t “know” what it was like. Again, I felt both privileged and ashamed.
Gloria gave us permission to stop expecting ourselves to “know” what it’s like to be without privilege, treated unjustly, and experience discrimination like many people do. Because of my privilege, that’s not very realistic. Instead, she encouraged us to spend our efforts listening, being curious, and finding ways to advocate. Her mantra was, “Call out the behavior. Call in the person.” This feels much more do-able!
“Call out the behavior. Call in the person.” – Gloria Cotton
Thank you Gloria, for your inclusive way of helping me feel more confident that I can be a #ProInclusionist.
Join our next Basics of Compassionate Accountability course and learn how to call out the behavior while calling in the person.
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