Inclusivity and a Picture of Success
By Heyward Watson
I believe that before successful progress can be made the concept that individuals and organizations need to be uncomfortable while instituting an inclusivity initiative within their organizations is genuine.
The uncomfortableness comes to pass because, in the United States of America, people are having trouble coming to grips with our historical facts about systemic racism. Maggie Potapchuk is the founder of MP Associates, a national consulting practice that partners with individuals, organizations, and communities to work collectively to achieve racial justice and reimagine a liberated future.
In Ms. Potapchuk’s article entitled “DEI Strategy Is Limited and Potentially Harmful: So Now What?“, she mentions Barbara Ransby, the author of Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century, which states that “the future of racial justice work (I believe justice work in general) requires disruptors, as it always has.” [i]
Being innovative disruptors is a concept that Third Sector Company has championed in our monthly roundtables and learning events in 2021. But this work is not easy for anyone, be it interim leaders or board members. It is uncomfortable.
Ms. Ransby says that “structural racism is cumulative, reinforcing, entrenched and is by its nature, dehumanizing, destructive, wounding, barbaric, and vicious. The question is can a DEI/Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiative uproot systemic racism in your organization and ensure that efforts of inclusivity initiative extend beyond your organization.” [ii]
And there are other types of systemic oppression that have affected women, the LGBTQ+ communities, Indigenous people, people living with physical disabilities, mental health issues, etcetera, that must be acknowledged. The acknowledgment of past historical facts is not to shame, blame, or guilt anyone currently living.
Understanding the historical facts of what and how systemic oppression came about is essential if forward progress happens.
When moving forward with an inclusivity initiative, it is critical to understand that it takes deliberate, sustained work to build the internal will to become a racially just and liberatory organization. A liberatory design shifts the relationship between the people who hold power to a system that understands those impacted by the power and fosters learning for those involved to create power-sharing in a fashion that produces collective liberation.
In my opinion, it isn’t easy to move forward with an inclusivity initiative if you’re not willing to define what a picture of success looks like for your organization and why that is important. I need to be more explicit here because if racial equity is critical to your organization’s work, it is essential to name it.
The next step is to create a strategy that is structured for your unique organization and circumstances. At Third Sector Company we espouse similar suggestions for pushing forward Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives in Board Chairs Academy and Interim Executives Academy.
My final thought agrees with Ms. Potapchuk’s statement, “organizations and individuals must work to expand the risk tolerance of cultural acceptance and support for a spectrum of emotions and reactions while building the conceptual knowledge of all involved.” [iii]
Senior Strategist – Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Third Sector Company, Inc.
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[i] Maggie Potapchuk, MP Associates, DEI Strategy is Limited and Potentially Harmful: So Now What?
[ii] Barbara Ransby, Making All Black Lives: Reimagining Freedom in the 21st Century, August 17, 2018
[iii] Maggie Potapchuk, MP Associates, DEI Strategy is Limited and Potentially Harmful: So Now What?