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Three Resources to Consider for More Inclusive Conversations

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

My Journey to Being a More Inclusive Communicator

Here at JDCS, we have been on a deep dive in our inclusion journey within ourselves, our community, and our clients for several years. We are a firm that believes inclusive communication is critical to being a good leader. Our services are informed by anti-racism work, men’s work against toxic masculinity, and studies on power, privilege, and gender equity. As a Founder and CEO, it's important to keep reflecting on ways I continue to fall back into the comfort of my privilege and continuing this journey to speak up and do what is necessary and right. When we invest in working on ourselves, commit to understanding, and rise up against the harmful dynamics at play in the systems around us, we are collectively more effective and whole.

Over the last five years, we have been on a journey to open spaces and provide communication tools to have difficult conversations. For me, this feels like a small way to start to work toward creating more cultures of belonging. It’s been critical for us as an organization to pause and understand what our purpose is for putting inclusion into everything we do. At the beginning of my journey, I spent many years supporting underrepresented communities, and I realized that too much of my energy was motivated by fear and guilt to make me feel better. From that realization, I became more curious. I started listening, asking questions, and learning more about systems of oppression and ways that my actions continue to perpetuate those systems. I still have a lot to learn, but now I am more closely aligned with both my intention and the impact I want to make.

As leaders and as humans, our communication is what separates us from the masses of humanity, and we must be aware of how it impacts others. If we are not mindful, the wrong communication fails at retaining employees, perpetuates stereotypes, insults others, further divides us, decreases revenue, and hinders innovation and growth.

When we work with organizations and witness a culture of belonging, their leaders take accountability; their people are more resilient, feel respected and heard, show up authentically, and have open and courageous conversations. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training is an ongoing program (not a one-time solution). I continue to learn that inclusion is not one isolated decision or communication, but it shows up differently for every situation and is apart of everything we do.

Below are three resources that we have found helpful to engage in being a more inclusive communicator:

*Curiosity and Questions - Step out of our own stories that we get stuck in and into the shoes of others. Our past experiences create our own reality and when someone’s experience is different than our own that can lead to an “I’m right and you're wrong.”

In your next presentation, meeting, or social gathering, use this as an opportunity to open lines of communication. Ask a question, get curious, and spark a conversation around the elephants in the room. We have to talk, share opinions, respectfully disagree, and debate.

Credit: John Atikson, Wrong Hands,

*Continued Learning Around Diversity and Culture - It is a lifelong learning process. Many of us have access and influence to small and large groups and it’s crucial that we gain more knowledge of the oppressive systems that are at work before we even step into a room. Commit to taking a course on diversity and inclusion, anti-racism, power, and privilege, or how to hold a more inclusive space. Here in the Bay Area, I have been involved with and find it to be a great way to do this in a supportive community. CompassPoint is also an organization supporting work in this space.

*Recognize & Challenge Power Imbalances - We as individuals, communities, and organizations need to help change, move forward, and model this. Calling Out / Calling In has been a tool we’ve found helpful to disrupt the imbalance when it happens. You can do this in the moment or after the fact.

Calling Out

When we need to interrupt to prevent further issues. It’s powerful for the target of the oppression to hear these words from the mouth of an ally.

  • I need to challenge that. I disagree. I don’t see it that way.

  • I feel obligated as your peer/friend/boss/co-worker to let you know that your comment isn’t ok.

  • That doesn’t reflect our culture here and, those aren't our values.

  • Ok, I am having a reaction to that, and I need to let you know why.

Calling In

To imagine different perspectives, possibilities, or outcomes. How can we call out the behavior while calling in the person?

  • What kind of impact do you think your decision/comment/action might have?

  • What was your intention when you said that?

  • What is the loss to our culture and us as an organization if we don’t take action?

  • What is making you the most hesitant, uncomfortable, or uneasy?

At JDCS, we are doing our best to meet people where they are without judgment. How can we judge when we are making mistakes often? I have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes in my journey. Part of our work is accepting our imperfections, getting back up, learning, and maintaining this work for the long term. By sending this communication out to you, I hope that you will take a more responsible, conscious step in everyday situations to bring yourself, your teams, and your organization to the next levels of inclusion and belonging. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help.

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