Be an Ally Today and Everyday
Don't get me wrong here, I love International Women's Day and Women's History Month. These annual events provide a wonderful reminder and platform to have conversations that we must have. International Women's Day also brings a new theme each year to sharpen our focus and attention. #IWD22 had the theme #breakthebias and spurred insightful discussion about bias. Bias is something that we all have. We all need strategies for how we identify, name, and manage our bias so that it does not impact our decision making.
So, why this newsletter? Why today? International Womens' Day and Womens' History Month are already behind us for 2022. My call to action to you all is to be an ally every day all year. Without diminishing the importance of IWD and Womens' History Month I want you to consider what you can do all year round to be an ally.
I am pleased to see active conversation once per year on gender equality issues and I do believe we are starting to make some ground through this awareness. However we still have a long way to go before we can say that we have achieved equality and equity.
We will never change the world through an annual talkfest. The way to create a sustainable shift is to work on it every single day.
Be an ally every day. When you find bias within yourself, notice and name it. This first step brings it from the unconscious to awareness. From this awareness you can begin to evaluate that bias. Where is it coming from? How is it serving or not serving you? How is it serving or not serving others? How does that bias sit with your values and beliefs? Is it congruent or incongruent with the world you see or the world you would like to see? Practice empathy with the subject of that bias. How would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot and you were the subject? How would you feel if it was your own wife, daughter, mother or sister that was the subject of that bias?
Form here consider what action will you take to ensure that bias does not unduly impact your decision making. The bias itself is human nature, it is how we are wired. Our fundamental need for survival brings with it an element of tribalism. We learn to identify and trust people that look (and even smell) like us. We learn to be wary of anyone that does not look like us. Do practice self-compassion in the knowledge that the bias is natural, but do notice and name it. Then take a considered response (not reaction) to that bias. Also consider what you have learnt about yourself and others in that process.
If we all notice, name and respond to our own bias we will start making true shifts in equity and equality.
Beyond this, start looking around you, start noticing and naming bias (implicit and explicit) when you see it. Take appropriate measures to bring it to that person or group's attention. When you see injustice and bias, call it out. Always remember that this may be a blind spot to them. They may be completely unaware of the bias they are demonstrating and that bias may also be incongruent with their own values and beliefs. Without awareness there is no way for them to address it.
When you see a subject of bias that needs support, be there for them. If they need a voice, be that voice. If they need an advocate, be that advocate. If they need someone to talk to, be that sounding board. The key part is to ask them what they need and how you can best support them. There are many cases where a well-meaning ally can overstep, misstep, or aggravate a situation by acting with misguided good intentions. I know I have done that in past for sure.
I know there are many allies out there that want to see an end to inequality and inequity (including, but not limited to gender equality issues). I also know that there are many people that want to be allies but don't know how. The best step you can make is to ask questions and listen closely to the answer. Help someone see that they matter to you. Ask them how they are and what issues / challenges they are facing. Ask them if they need support and in what way you can best support them.
In summary, do not wait until IWD 2023 to have another conversation about gender equality. Act now; act every day; be an ally all year.
Celebrating 50 Episodes on The Leadership Project Podcast
The team at The Leadership Project are very proud to be celebrating our 50th episode this week. We could not think of any better guest than Stephen Shedletzky (Shed) to have on the show for this milestone.
Shed is in the process of writing a new and much-needed book on Speak Up Culture. Psychological Safety and a Speak Up Culture is something that many are talking about. However, there remains a lot of confusion about what this really means. Shed shares his wonderful wisdom and insights to help us all to bring clarity to this discussion.