I have had a lot of conversations recently about systemic inequities and racism. I have supported many organizations in creating more inclusive cultures and have conducted hundreds of focus groups around race, gender and other differences. I have coached many leaders and teams around these issues. It is from this work that I developed the OASIS Conversations process. I could see that we are not skilled in talking with each other about these challenging issues and creating environments of respect. It is easy to feel misunderstood or blamed. It is hard to admit that there are inequities that each of us has contributed to. We are each conditioned by our background experiences. While most of us don’t intend to be biased, we are often unaware of the impact of our statements and actions. The OASIS process supports us in noticing our judgments and reactions and shifting to being open and understanding to co-create shared solutions.
There is a great cost to individuals, organizations and communities for a lack of inclusion and inequity. We are at a unique time in our history where, while there is uncertainty in many arenas, there is also significant opportunity. We need to make changes within ourselves, in our organizations and in society. Will we commit to transformation? We need to be more open to one another.
I continue to be committed to learning, making a difference and contributing to the solution. And the solution is not easy or readily apparent. It is going to take each of us to make the commitment for increasing our understanding, engaging in conversations and taking action.
First, it is valuable to educate ourselves. We can’t pretend to understand the experience of others. Do we know what it is like to not be able to catch a cab because of the color of our skin or the fear a mother has when her black son is driving? There are a lot of resources to study to educate ourselves. When we understand the history of our country and the experiences of others that will help us to be more empathetic. We have all been impacted by our conditioning.
Then we need to be emotionally intelligent. We need to recognize that we are each having different experiences and that we are literally paying attention to different observable data. What is apparent to one person is literally not visible to another. We are each making different assumptions and experiencing different emotions and judgments.
We can learn to be more open and curious and truly listen to one another. We can become more self-aware and shift to being open-minded and open-hearted.
As we truly listen to one another and empathize with compassion, the solutions will naturally emerge.
We need to have these conversations in our families, workplaces and in our communities.
We need to also change processes and structures to ensure equity. We need to elect politicians who can change larger policies and we can change practices in organizations and communities.
I appreciate that leaders in organizations are coming forth with commitments to invest energy and resources in creating more inclusive and collaborative cultures. Many are committing to donate to organizations that are working on addressing systemic bias.
We can each make a commitment to action. I will be facilitating groups where people support each other in being open-minded and taking actions to make a difference. We know that transformation will take time, effort and discomfort. This time of uncertainty may be the perfect time to create more open and collaborative organizations and communities.
Commit to one action today to be a part of the collective solution where people know that they matter and to collectively make the world better for all.