Archie Bunker: “What color was he?” His young niece to Archie:
“People color.” — from “All in the Family”
There was a time long ago when I began my journey of consulting and
training on the topic of Diversity and Inclusion that I hoped for the best,
believed the best and looked for the best in everyone. As a right-brained
thinker, with a passion for beautiful things and seeing people happy, I put
on my proverbial rose-colored glasses when I embarked on this journey.
Over the years I have taken rose color from the glasses. I talk about the Art
of Inclusion®, because we are diverse—more diverse than ever. We are not
There I was, an educated, verbose, black woman in a professional and very
visible position experiencing the corporate landscape as a schism, a wide
divide between my passion and the reality that things were not inherently
set up for inclusive practices. Not at work, not in the U.S. educational
system, not even in the U.S. government offices.
Yes we have EEOC, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
that enforces Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Those
laws protect each of us against employment discrimination when it involves
unfair treatment because of one’s race, color, religion, sex (including
pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic
information…. these laws also include harassment by managers, co-
workers, or others in the workplace, because of the above. EEOC is
available when one experiences denial of a reasonable workplace
accommodation that you need because of your religious beliefs or
disability. Finally if there is retaliation because an employee complained
about job discrimination, or assisted with a job discrimination investigation
or lawsuit the EEOC is there to assist. If individuals believe that they have
been discriminated against at work, they can file a “Charge of
Discrimination.” All of the laws enforced by EEOC, except for the Equal Pay
Act, require you to file a Charge of Discrimination with EEOC before that
individual can file a job discrimination lawsuit against their employer. In
addition, an individual, organization, or agency may file a charge on behalf
of another person in order to protect the aggrieved person’s identity.
But, I am talking about inclusion. We certainly would not have made any
advancement if it were not for the protection of the EEOC laws. But, I am
talking about opportunity. I am talking about unapologetic inclusion where
we redefine images qualifications, beauty, capabilities, capacity and moving
the line of privilege out of the way to make room for everyone. Sometimes
it feels impossible, even lonely to hope and believe the dream of inclusion.
I am talking about Inclusion with the big “I”. I am still working in this space
because my dream is for equity for all. Everyone gets what he or she need
and everyone is treated like a valued human being.
I want to live in a world in which inclusion is so commonplace and seamless
that we no longer see news stories about how inspiring it is that this child
or that woman was invited to the big stage or the boardroom.
I want to see a world where access to opportunity, jobs, housing and
education is something that is intrinsic in our society, not something we
have to work so hard to attain and share. I believe it is possible that the
least “able” person can be considered worthy and valuable in our society.
I unapologetically believe in inclusion…where differences are appreciated
and treated with respect; …in an inclusive world there would not be
negative judgments for being different…not a “bad/wrong/deficient. We
could then harness all of our energy currently devoted to advocacy and use
it to create amazing discoveries instead! I believe in the transformative
power or radical regard for all.
I hope and dream about an educated society that knows and respects the
value of every human being. I hope and dream of a society that accepts,
supports and appreciates the uniqueness of every one of us. I dream of a
society where there is no need to use the word, “inclusion”.
What is your hope or dream for inclusion? I trust you are in health and I hold
you in positive regard as you enjoy this blog post. Peace!