Diversity Matters: Your voice matters

How could I speak to anything beyond gender discrimination with any amount of integrity?

This space was never intended to be about me. My role here is to shine a light on the business practices that mask discrimination; to offer tools for those who wish to diversify their organization and help generate workplace conversations around diversity and inclusion.

Why do I use my voice?

While it is true that you personally did not build those barriers, the fact is they will not crumble to dust over time. Those barriers are firmly entrenched in our hiring practices, our marketing spend and the financial opportunities afforded us. You might ask – what can I do if I am not part of an underrepresented community?

Here are opportunities for you to speak up:

As a hiring manager, use your voice to question why all your job candidates are the same. How can the posting be designed so more diverse candidates see themselves contributing to your team? Where are the postings being advertised? Encourage your team members and fellow coworkers to promote job posting on social media and discuss the use of candidate platforms with your HR team that amplify their reach into minority populations. As a member of the HR team, use your voice to stop bias from taking root in your hiring, firing and promotion of employees. They count on you to represent their interests and create a safe workplace environment. As a senior leader, use your voice to ask those around the table what concrete steps are being taken to develop and promote under-represented employees so that they may be seated alongside you. Ditto for board members. As a colleague, use your voice to suppress discrimination when it is uttered and to support those who are not in the room. Ensure credit is given where it is deserved As an event organizer, use your voice to reach out to speakers, panel participants and moderators with representation being top-of-mind regardless of the subject matter. As a speaker, use your voice to say no when asked to speak at events that lack diversity, or offer your space to a deserving but overlooked colleague. If it costs you future opportunities with that event/event planner, ask yourself if that is who you want to be associated with. As a panel moderator – moderate!Do not remain idle when vocal representation is erased. Amplify the comments of participants whose great contributions are run over by louder voices. As community leaders, use your voice to break barriers. Ensure outreach and business events truly reach and reflect the entire community. As business owners, use your voice (and your wallet) to choose where to advertise. Sponsorship dollars can be made contingent on fair representation. Partner with agencies, suppliers and vendors whose organizational structure is truly diverse. As social media and content creators, use your voice to ensure your organization’s message doesn’t promote stereotypes or include derogatory imagery. As a member of the community, use your voice to lend your support to leaders from underrepresented populations. You might be wondering if an outspoken person like myself would ever recommend being quiet.

Remaining silent as someone shares their experiences is an opportunity for us to learn. Remaining silent to avoid centering the conversation around us, is an opportunity to demonstrate our respect.

If you truly want to make changes in your workplace, understand you are going to have missteps. Allow yourself the right to make those mistakes, learn from them and keep going.

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