How to be an Ally, Step 1: The Importance of Listening

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” Unknown

Individuals & organizations are reacting in a way I have never seen in more than 25 years of working in the DEI (Diversity, Equality, Inclusion) space. It is as if collective eyes, minds, & hearts have suddenly opened. And they are finally seeing, hearing, and understanding the pain that has been there for far too long. And now they are asking, “what can we do”?

For individuals: listen to your friends & colleagues. Understand that the words are not (hopefully) being directed at you personally. Listen to what they have held in for so long. Do not be defensive, judge, justify or explain. Just listen with an open mind & open heart. If the words are directed at your actions, follow the same steps and then, sincerely, examine your behavior & apologize. Ask what you can do to correct your behavior.

For organizations: facilitated, confidential listening groups will create a safe space for employees of color to express themselves. Employees, both POC and non-POC employees, are feeling so many emotions right now: anger; frustration; disgust; rage; helplessness; overwhelmed to name a few. They all need a safe & confidential space to process these emotions. Employers talk about how their employees are their greatest assets. They are hurting right now, & they need you to support them. Create that space & constructively & actively show your support.

Create change. It cannot be business as usual.

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