About a week ago I attended a conference at Benedictine University on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). To be honest, I was not that excited to go. I believed the topic to be more political than practical, which dampened my enthusiasm, and yet something still compelled me to attend. As I reflect on this hesitancy, maybe I was afraid or concerned that I was becoming “numb” on this issue. Or maybe I thought I already knew enough on the topic. For instance, I had thought and SAID such things as:
- “I don’t care about diversity; I want the best folks regardless of background!”
- “I have no interest in achieving a quota, that will result in creating mediocrity”
- “Diversity is about different perspectives, that’s all I care about”
- “I want to invite the right people to participate, versus a generic inclusion”
And I did not see a problem with those statements! I had made them countless times, in multiple venues, over many years. But I quickly realized that those statements were not aligned with D&I and lacked a true understanding of what diversity and inclusion is, and looks like.
What lay ahead of me at this conference was a whole new perspective on what diversity and inclusion actually meant. I believe I am a good listener and I have always had the desire to learn, especially new ways of thinking. Fortunately, these qualities helped me to stay curious long enough during the conference to hear a speaker say: “Diversity is about counting heads, inclusion is about having the heads count”. After hearing such insights like this, I went from being casually curious to intently interested! I started to take the foundational components of our journey at Tuthill and link them to D&I. Specifically, I began to apply this new way of thinking into our company’s Values, Behaviors, & Compass.
Here are a few key realizations I had:
- Our values of Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Courage, Awareness, & Excellence all have varying degrees of impact on D&I.
- Our behaviors of Curiosity, Clarity, Grit, Grace, Gratitude, and Love really speak to D&I.
- Aliveness is deeply embedded within our Compass, and I noticed D&I has a favorable and meaningful impact on Aliveness at Tuthill. I also thought about our Purpose to Wake the World and quickly decided we would not achieve our Purpose without D&I.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Stefanie K. Johnson, highlighted four areas in the context of inclusion. Naturally, following Dr. Johnson’s talk I went to my head (which is my comfort zone) and asked: “how big is the gap, between our journey and these four areas”? I graded, on a scale of 1 to 10, how we were doing, knowing at Tuthill we hold the bar high while still being realistic.
- Develop folks equally = 8. I believe we do develop our folks equally, from the shop floor to the office. For example, every employee is offered the chance to attend our training.
- Empower folks = 7. At times we, at Tuthill, collapse Grace and Caretaking. As a recovering “hero" I have a strong pattern of wanting to “save” folks who quite frankly do not need saving. I believe whenever I, or others, caretake I/we hinder our ability to empower.
- Treat them fairly = 8. I believe this is another strength. Our value of respect and our behaviors of Grace, Gratitude and Love, speak strongly of our intentions.
- Support them = 6. For me, there is something in the word “support”. Do I/we ask for support or help? I know I avoid it because it might make me look weak. Interestingly, in our training sessions w
ehave learned this perspective is not unique. Which had me think about our support: Do we ask for help when we really need it? Especially when it shows we are not perfect? Or when we may appear vulnerable? I know this is a challenge for me! How about you?
As you can tell, I am quickly becoming a fan of D&I. As I venture on this new journey I am excited to deepen my appreciation of the fundamental premise of our Compass, human dignity, and integrate that within D&I. And I realize that as a 62-year-old white male I have much to learn in this area. I know other folks of Tuthill are ahead of me on this climb, AND now, with them belaying me, I am eager to work on the next foothold to join them!