Coffee & Conversations Outcomes

Last week, the Step Up community gathered to practice having tough conversations about diversity in the workplace. There are many barriers to interrupting stereotypes, including being able to identify when assumptions are being made and feeling confident enough to say something to someone with whom you have a professional (or personal) relationship. Sometimes we think we don’t “know enough” to say something.

But silence can be even more hurtful for everyone in the long run. Here are a few tips our participants came up with last week:

ASK QUESTIONS

“I don’t understand. What did you mean by that?”

>> “I just met the new hire Demarcus. He said he went to UW and I totally forgot to ask him which sport he played! Do you know?”

>> “I don’t understand. What do you mean, what sport he played? Are you sure he’s an athlete, or are you making assumptions?”

HOLD UP A MIRROR

“What I just heard you say was…(rephrase what you heard, using an equity lens). Did you mean that? What did you mean?”

>> “I just met the new hire Demarcus. He said he went to UW and I totally forgot to ask him which sport he played! Do you know?”

>> “Wait a minute. What I just heard you say was that the new hire, who happens to be African American, must have played a sport to get into a school like UW. Did you mean that?”

“Why are you assuming …?” or “It sounds like you’re assuming that…”

>> “I’m glad Esmeralda got a promotion. She’s so articulate. Our company has come a long way with the diversity & inclusion program.”

>> “It sounds like you’re assuming that Esmeralda only got a promotion because of our diversity and inclusion program. Why?” OR

>> “It sounds like you are assuming that Latinas aren’t articulate, or maybe you think English isn’t her first language. Why?

SHARE YOUR OWN IMPERFECTIONS

“I know I have my own biases, and I hope you would bring them to my attention.”

BE HARD ON SYSTEMS, SOFT ON PEOPLE

“I’m challenging the assumption I’m hearing, not you as a person.”

STAND UP FOR OTHERS

“I wonder if she hears that a lot. That must be hard.”

STAND UP FOR YOURSELF

“I hear that all the time and it’s hard for me.

OFFER ANOTHER CHANCE

“I’m going to give you a chance to rephrase that.”

“The next time you talk to someone about this, you might want to think about/say…”

CALL THEM IN, NOT OUT

“Can we pause and think about what’s happening here?”

“I’m going to call you in, not out, for a second. I’m hearing you say…”

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