Change Is Your Choice
Ever since the tragedy of George Floyd last year, I have been asked to facilitate many Inclusion interventions, as senior leadership teams seek to understand and harness the power of an inclusive culture.
Gary was the Group Procurement Director, and a very good one at that. From my early exchanges he had intellectually understood Diversity and Inclusion but perhaps hadn’t recognised the importance of his leadership role in fostering a more inclusive environment.
Midway through our series of sessions, Gary’s ‘moment’ came. After showing a powerful and beautifully crafted P&G video called “The Talk”, Gary courageously shared a story where he’d witnessed racist abuse on a bus, whilst sitting with his children.
As he continued to recall the incident, you could feel the emotion pouring out (even over Zoom). His voice was breaking. Sharing the story enabled Gary to start to ‘walk in the shoes’ of the victimised Black woman. Wanting to be the ‘best’ role model for his children, he realised that it wasn’t acceptable to be a passive passenger anymore – together we must stand up to racism.
His transformation was unbelievable. Before I could get a word in at our next session, he was passionately talking about the Allyship workshops he’d attended and his advocacy for some of the more junior members in his team. He was beaming. I was very proud. Once the Inclusion ‘genie’ is out of the bottle you’ll struggle to get it back in – particularly in Gary’s case.
I caught up with him recently and it has both changed and troubled him. He has had to ask himself some seriously tough questions and face up to his own past where he has not always seen or heard the marginalised or those who have been excluded.
He is making up for that now.
Inclusion is believing in everybody. Gary had changed.
If we can be taught to hate, we can learn to love.