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Lessons From an Exhilarating and Exhausting Month!

I love hearing from you.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: getting responses and feedback from readers is more meaningful to me than I can say! It’s always enriching and humbling, and makes me feel deeply connected.

As more readers finish Inclusion on Purpose, it’s been a joy hearing their takeaways and insights. I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since launch!

And it’s made me reflect on: what are my top takeaways from my book, now that I’ve had space from it?

Of course, there are the big ones: center women of color. Actively practice inclusion. Take responsibility for creating an environment where everyone can belong. But there are other, less-obvious ones, and today I wanted to share them with you:

Focus on culture add

“Culture fit” is exclusionary and biased. It makes sense: If your organization is made up of white men, then you’re consciously or unconsciously going to pattern match for a “culture fit.”

Think back to the last time you talked about whether someone is a “culture fit”. What made them — or did not make them — a fit? The more trouble you have articulating this, the more likely your judgment is biased.

Instead, seek to hire people you don’t already see represented, by race, gender, educational background, experience, country of origin, languages spoken, and other identities.

Build empathy through reading fiction

Stanford research shows there’s an inverse relationship between privilege and empathy. That means the more privilege you have, it’s generally harder to empathize with the experiences of others. So, leaders must develop empathy by constantly self-educating and building awareness of what different people are facing.

The Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley published phenomenal research on cultivating empathy. One of their research-backed recommendations surprised me: read fiction. Stories change us, and powerful stories often stay in our minds longer than data. Seek out stories from different cultures–written by authors from those backgrounds.

Recently, I’ve read three works of fiction that greatly influenced me: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, and Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. What are yours?

Cultivate cultural humility

Cultural competency is outdated. What we need is the cultivation of cultural humility. What’s the difference? Cultural competency means learning about other cultures while retaining the idea that your culture is dominant. Cultural humility means recognizing that you do not know everything about another’s culture, and that there may be a lot to learn from it. Cultural humility is particularly useful for leaders working with women of color.

One small, but powerful, way to cultivate cultural humility is prioritizing the correct pronunciation of a colleague’s name. Cultural humility reminds us that all names are meaningful to their owner, so stumbling through an unfamiliar name for your own ease or comfort is unacceptable.

Cultural competency is broad and fixed, while cultural humility allows for nuance and flexibility. It prompts us to observe visual cues, not just verbal ones.

I share more detail about my top takeaways from Inclusion on Purpose here with the Next Big Idea Club if you’d like to read (and hear me read them) further.

And now, of course I want to hear from you! If you’ve read Inclusion on Purpose (thank you!), what are your top takeaways? Or more broadly, what’s a favorite insight you’ve learned from a woman of color you admire and follow?


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