Tag Archives: allies

Talking about Race & Racism

21 Jul

Last week I was part of many conversations about race and racism – in organizations, with the people in my life, in the community.

Race and racism are tricky to talk about. People feel cautious – even afraid – to say the wrong thing, or to be perceived as ignorant (or worse, as racist). The trouble is that this often means that we are not having these important conversations. Because we don’t know how. Remember the “practice makes perfect” your parents likely said to you when you were a kid? Perfection is a lofty goal, but it sure is true that the more you practice, the easier something can become.

The spectre of political correctness is still with us. And while it’s important to think about what we are saying and the impact it might have, it’s also important that we connect with people, ask questions and learn about each other. How else will we learn what their lives are like, what matters to them, what they need, and how we experience things differently – and therefore what needs to change?  Because we can be in the same situation, organization, conversation, community, etc and be having a completely different experience because of race (or any other identity).

Take the recent shootings of two Black men in the USA by police officers for example. Firstly, these deaths were due to (at the very least) systemic racism. They were tragic, heartbreaking, and unnecessary. But if you are a person of colour, there was likely also grief and anger. I heard a lot of “no words” from Black people as we grappled with the reality that we are still not seen as equal, still not living the lives we should be on this continent, still not safe. Same incident, different experience.

When we open ourselves to see more about another person’s reality, it’s because we are beginning to recognize that we move through the world and experience the world differently. That things may be obvious for some and that others may be oblivious to those same details. This is an important first step. But what comes next?

We have to listen. Really listen to what is being shared.

And then we have to use that information and our privilege and commit to creating change by being allies (more on that later). We have talked about it long enough – we need action. Because action, not words, shows us you get it – and change doesn’t happen without it.

See more. 

Copyright 2016 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Facilitator, and Consultant on issues of Diversity & Inclusion

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What we can learn from Marc Benioff

9 Apr

Marc Benioff is the CEO of Salesforce, and he is mad about Indiana’s Religious Freedoms Law that recently passed – which  would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

What happened, however, was that he is DOING something about it that speaks not just about his protest, but about his support for LGBTQ people. He:

– Threatened to scale back his company’s investments in Indiana
– Tweeted about it
– Connected with other CEOs and they got on board
– Has offered relocation packages to employees who want to leave the state as a result of the new law

It’s feels rare these days to see someone stick their neck out for others so boldly and publicly.
Marc isn’t gay, but he is clearly an Ally.
And yes, he is a CEO, so he has power and privilege to back up his protests – and put his money where his mouth is, which helps.

But what amazes me most is that he isn’t just talking about it, he is taking tangible steps that have a real impact. He is making his voice heard and making it count. And it has made a difference.

Saying we disagree with something is one thing, but taking action  to show that disagreement while also being an ally really says we get it and we care.

One could argue that it’s easy to do this when one has power and privilege behind them, which is true.
But clearly just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean people DO it.

Thank you Marc.

See more.

Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion.

Happy Pride Week!

27 Jun

If you live in the Toronto area, Happy Pride Week!
The rainbow flag is everywhere – a great opening to talk about LGBTQ issues.

Even sweeter this week is the US Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage – making it legal in 13 US states and DC. There are 30+ states in which it is still illegal, but this is a big step.

And while that is big news for the citizens of those US states, and another victory for LGBTQ rights worldwide, let’s not forget that we all contribute to victories like this by adding our voices, and being allies.

Some of you work in companies that have LGBTQ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), or whose companies are interested in corporate social responsibility. Here is a great video on LGBTQ safer schools that I just saw and think is amazing. It’s from PFLAG, and it’s part of a partnership with Johnson & Johnson in the USA.

But if your ERG or your corporate social responsibility department is looking for a worthwhile project – this is a great example of what is possible. LGBTQ youth (and those perceived to be LGBTQ) are not feeling safe in school. The statistics are staggering. In Canada, you can call Egale Canada. They are doing amazing work with their Safer Schools Campaign, to help make schools safer for LGBTQ kids.

Get involved! Help make a difference!

Happy Pride!

See more.

Copyright 2013 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion.

Making things better for LGBTQ youth

23 May

Every once in a while I’m touched by the commitment and compassion of an organization to make the world a better place and create spaces where people are and feel valued for who they are.

TD has been on my list of exemplary companies around LGBTQ issues, and the launch of their new “It Gets Better” video is another example of what we can do when we walk the talk about inclusion. What I like most about it is the honesty and the  acknowledgment of how hard it can be to be yourself in the face of hate and lack of acceptance – and that this hate is not about you. Wow. I wonder how many hearts will be touched by those words? How many kids will take another breath and keep going because someone not only said “it’s going to get better” but “it sucks now, and it’s a systemic problem”? (Someone in a position of power and in a suit, no less!)

I have heard Ed Clark (the CEO of TD) say, with my own ears, that TD will never put profits before people. I know that they are committed to LGBTQ communities because he found out (years ago) that a high level executive at TD felt he had to quit because he was gay. TD has been transformed internally as well as in their community support because someone in power “got it”, and did something about it.

There are many ways to make a difference – big ways and small ways – no matter who we are.
Speaking up for, or standing beside someone as an ally are two ways that can help to begin a ripple of change that could change someone’s whole world.

Watch the video.
Be inspired.

See more.

Copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion

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