Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the DiversityFirst certification program to become a Certified Diversity Professional. As a female that has held leadership positions in the business world, I felt I was well versed in the realm of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. Time and time again, I have often heard or experienced the thought around my having small children and balancing that with wanting to grow my career. I often drew from one of my heroes, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her words, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you” and her thoughts on her life’s work, in her strive “To make life a little better for people less fortunate than you, that's what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for oneself but for one's community.”
But then I had the opportunity to talk to 2 of my African American peers within my cohort. One, a Director in her field, told me she had to have her white friend's children call her aunt in public as she had often been asked her rates as the nanny and if she could take on more clients. My other peer, a Chief Diversity Officer, was time and time again asked to make copies as the executives kept confusing her for the EA. These are just a couple of the countless examples.
That was just the beginning of the immense learning I would take away from the course. Over the course of the week, I had the opportunity to research and spend time discussing micro-inequities, the differently abled community, the need for a greater understanding, awareness and support in organizations around those who identify as transgender and LGBTQ+.
Diversity today means more than gender. It means more than ethnicity. It includes race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, generation, military background, different abilities and thinking styles. Inclusion ensures those different voices are heard.
The ability to listen and learn is valuable when our teams are encouraged to speak their minds, even when they are expressing an unpopular opinion or suggesting a new idea. Smart, successful global teams understand that differing opinions spark innovation — and that it is a crucial part of high performance.
I am humbled. I am learning. And my biggest takeaway from my program- using my (now certified 😊) voice to continue to work to strive for inclusion and equality in all the work that we do.