On International Women’s Day this is the big question isn’t it?
How do we create truly inclusive and empowering cultures in our families, schools and workplaces?
Even those of us who truly desire to do so can be blinded by what we don’t even know we don’t even know. And that is just the beginning. Traditions, power structures, privilege, expectations, language, reward systems… the list can feel daunting. And it should.
It can be difficult being a man with all the mixed messages around masculinity. It can be difficult being a woman with all the mixed messages inherent there. Add the intersectionality of race, education, or any other differentiator and we see how complex true inclusivity is.
If there was as easy fix we would have fixed it by now, but countless centuries and cultures later we are still trying to figure it out. Which just means we are going to have to approach this differently. Maybe there isn’t a simple answer or a plug-in program. Maybe as well as Gender Frameworks and initiatives, as important as they are and they are very important, we are also going to have to do the thing most of us dread more than a root canal – listen.
Inclusion trumps diversity. Belonging trumps them both. Creating environments where all can thrive is a goal worth working towards. And the journey begins with listening.
It may not be perfect. It probably won’t be pretty. It may feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. Things will likely get worse before they get better but surely that is so much better than the alternative.
This year I am committed to listening. And I invite you to join me.