Resilience for our collective future

-Tree wisdom for 2022

None of us would have thought in 2020, that we would be still in a pandemic in 2022, battling the third wave, and yet it has been inspiring to see so many of us adapting to great changes that this pandemic has brought. Changes in job, career, family, finances and worst of all dealing with the grief of isolation and death and many of us are at a breaking point having used all our tensile strength. People in economically and socially disadvantaged communities have suffered the most.

Resilience is a word that came up for me when I thought of 2022. Resilience is our ability to endure and bounce back from difficult situations.

As I had my own mental health struggles in 2021, I took time to deeply reconnect with the earth’s grounding energy, took many forest baths in isolation. I have found my connection to trees and soil very healing. Three lessons that I have been practicing and want to share with readers are:

  • Anchoring: Trees impart the wisdom to stand silently rooted in the most difficult weather.

Our values, our connection to our ancestors have the potential to become our strongest anchors. This especially for people who have been disadvantaged by systems of oppression, faced historical erasures and have internalised that oppression, thus cutting themselves from their roots and trying to fit into the dominant culture. Creating clarity around our deeper cultural values that sustained our ancestors through difficult times can help us make important, aligned and empowering decisions.

  • Connection: Trees keep in touch with the other trees and the fauna, creating a diverse ecosystem, in which everyone participates to nourish and grow.

To nourish the connection we have with our family, relatives and a diverse community can support us through toughest of times. People thrive when they know they are loved and cared for, and when they have someone to love and care for in return. A diverse community also allows for diverse and new perspectives which in turn provide nutrition for our collective growth.

  • Liberation: They work underground without having any need to be seen/ external validation and make are able to create shifts that change the entire forest landscape.

Learning to liberate ourselves from our pursuit of being seen and being significant is a paradigm shift in a system of beliefs about what is success, squeezes us for more and impacts our health and the wellbeing of our families and communities. Liberating ourselves is a practice in being able to sit with the discomfort of not doing. The pandemic became a tool for many of us the learn that lesson.

Anti-Oppression as a transformational Leadership Tool

Introduction

Oppression is an unjust practice where a dominant group uses their power and privilege to oppress marginalized identities. This happens at both Micro and Macro level. Both Micro and macro oppressions are inter-related and indicative of each other. E.g. You would see a behavioral dynamic of oppression in a team (Micro) that would be indication of larger organizational dynamic and ideology.

Anti-Oppression practice is a practice that focuses to dismantle oppressive practices at both Micro and Macro level in order to create interventions for a more equitable and just world.

Anti-oppression practice is self-governing tool for everyday relationships and awareness.

Organizations are paradoxical, everchanging, complex and multidimensional. Anti-oppression work is a work in progress and not a silver bullet. Organizations and people are whole and complete and are always moving towards a greater sense of completion when working on Anti-Oppressive practice.

As oppression is ever present in our systems, we need to continue to learn and grow our anti-oppression practice and to do that we use the points of entry as Knowing, Doing and Being.

What do you need to know to increase your awareness of Anti-oppression, what are you doing to that effect as a daily practice and Who are you being? Always being aware that we are not being oppressor to the oppressed.

There are various ways in which oppression manifests itself. Being aware of privileges and marginalization that exist in our systems and that they create similar dynamics in our day to day relationships and interactions will support us to come from pause and choice in those interactions. Self-work on our biases and prejudices helps us create a clean container for Anti-oppressive practices.

Anti-oppressive Practice should not be perceived as an abstract thought, but it must be concrete and noticeable to our daily practice relationships. There must be an proof in our practice relationship that we function within an anti-oppressive apparatus to prevent implicit or explicit oppressive attitudes. Those oppressive attitudes that undermine our transformational authority to create and maintain change (For example, how we speak can either inspire change or further marginalize and dehumanize).

If Anti-oppression practice is to be effective it should be seen on the impact it has on the people we relate with. It becomes ambiguous and counter intuitive  if we want to empower and help change the lives, impact our organisation and world while our thinking, attitude, and action continue to maintain the status quo. If we desire to see real change in our everyday practice relationships the transformational change first begins with ‘Self’.

Challenge to anti-oppression practice

The biggest challenge to anti-oppression practice is the cycle of oppression that continues to manifest itself implicitly and explicitly and can only be interrupted with awareness of Self and its impact on the relationships as well as systems it inhabits.

As the cycle of oppression is all pervasive it is important for anti-oppression practitioners to be aware of how organizational politics and relationships can continue to manifest the core of fear, confusion, ignorance and insecurity. The collective movement should be to intentionally move towards the core of self-love, self-esteem, balance, joy, support, security and have a spiritual base to this practice. If we can have that we can then create movement and action in the organization that is towards anti-oppression liberatory consciousness.

Realm of Self work

To create the core of self-love, self-esteem, balance, joy, support and security, self-work is imperative. Anti-oppression practice requires a commitment to growth mindset, celebrating resistance. AOP requires us to hold ourselves and look beyond to influence and transform. To hold ourselves with love and self-esteem beyond ego and create an inclusive anti-oppressive space for healing and growth. This work is not easy and requires understanding of triggers, reactions, intent and impact.

I suggest following tools for an anti-oppressive practice

  1. Witnessing self (Practice derived from Sakshibhaav in Hindu Yoga tradition).
  2. Iceberg of behavior and belief
  3. Neuro-biology of triggers and reactions
  4. Somatic work for internalized trauma
  5. Practice of pause and generative meaning making
  6. Practice of curiosity, humility and self-management

Witnessing self: This practice is literarily the practice of self- observation. Almost like you are witnessing you own thoughts and biases. This practice is constant and iterative, in which you build muscle to reflect as you act. Some also call it being in the balcony to watch yourself in a dance.

Iceberg of behavior and belief: When we can notice ourselves the first thing, we notice is our behavior and thought. We can use Freud’s iceberg model to look at what are the underlying factors for our behavior. This cannot be used to judge others behavior but only to work on self and understand our motivations a little bit better.

Neuro-biology of triggers and reactions: If we understand our triggers and can find a pathway to create a space for an empowering meaning, we can truly liberate ourselves from the fear, confusion and insecurity that is harbored in our limbic brain.

Somatic Body work for internalized trauma: It is important to understand that oppression and generations of oppression manifests itself not only in the brain but bodies of color and culture. Stretches, Running, Dancing, Yogasanas as well as trauma release practices can be effective in releasing trauma stored in the body.

Practice pause and generative meaning making: Amygdala hijack takes about six seconds to manifest. If we are able to pick up a trigger before it takes over, we can then create a space of pause by generative meaning making. In generative meaning making, we ask an empowering question to engage our rational brain and away from short circuiting to the limbic brain. The empowering question allows us to become curious about the situation and the trigger itself, thus creating a detached space of self-care. Some of the questions that we can ask are: What meaning am I making of this situation? How can I create an empowering meaning that supports the core of Self-love and Joy?

Trigger + Pause (Generative meaning making) = Empowered Response

Practice of curiosity, humility and self-management: Always practice coming from curiosity, humility and self-manage to create anti-oppressive space.

Mindset and beliefs for AOP

Anti-oppressive practice requires that each practitioner comes from a systemic lens and understanding of Power, Privilege, Rank, Race and Culture dynamic. This allows for the practitioner to see the systems and create shifts in policies, structures and contribute in creating deeper shifts in consciousness.

Where there is oppression three characteristics are present:

Systemic: It is systemic, organizational and societal. It is not just individuals with prejudiced beliefs and actions, but rather is embedded within the structure.

Power imbalance: It involves a dominant or more powerful group exploiting a less powerful group based on perceived differences between the groups. There is always a power imbalance at play.

Denial: The powerful group often denies that oppression exists or accepts it as being normal or right.

Oppression can manifest in different ways. It may be conscious or unconscious. Unconscious oppression is especially hard to tackle, because it is less visible and overt. However, both conscious and unconscious oppression can manifest in one’s attitudes and beliefs or in one’s behaviour. 

My beliefs for my Anti-Oppression practice:

All humans are equal and have a good intent

All human’s are parts of each other and manifest in each other’s life for self-learning and growth- (comes from Hindu religious philosophy in Geeta, Buddhism and also present in other religious philosophies)

Lust, greed and anger are a path to self-destruction

Celebrating resistance and challenge as an opportunity

Challenge has an exciting and pulsating energy and sometimes it can cause fear of the unknown, if we can look beyond fear and see challenge as an opportunity for our growth through disciplined effort, then we can move from the Unconscious competence of not knowing to the skilled application of Unconscious competence.

Anti-Oppressive practices and consciousness when used in leadership and organizational development can create ripples of transformation ranging from self, organization, society and our planet.

Anti-Oppression as a Transformational Leadership Tool

Rashmi Dixit

Introduction

Oppression is an unjust practice where a dominant group uses their power and privilege to oppress marginalized identities. This happens at both Micro and Macro level. Both Micro and macro oppressions are inter-related and indicative of each other. E.g. You would see a behavioral dynamic of oppression in a team (Micro) that would be indication of larger organizational dynamic and ideology.

Anti-Oppression practice is a practice that focuses to dismantle oppressive practices at both Micro and Macro level in order to create interventions for a more equitable and just world.

Anti-oppression practice is self-governing tool for everyday relationships and awareness.

Organizations are paradoxical, everchanging, complex and multidimensional. Anti-oppression work is a work in progress and not a silver bullet. Organizations and people are whole and complete and are always moving towards a greater sense of completion when working on Anti-Oppressive practice.

As oppression is ever present in our systems, we need to continue to learn and grow our anti-oppression practice and to do that we use the points of entry as Knowing, Doing and Being.

What do you need to know to increase your awareness of Anti-oppression, what are you doing to that effect as a daily practice and Who are you being? Always being aware that we are not being oppressor to the oppressed.

There are various ways in which oppression manifests itself. Being aware of privileges and marginalization that exist in our systems and that they create similar dynamics in our day to day relationships and interactions will support us to come from pause and choice in those interactions. Self-work on our biases and prejudices helps us create a clean container for Anti-oppressive practices.

Anti-oppressive Practice should not be perceived as an abstract thought, but it must be concrete and noticeable to our daily practice relationships. There must be an proof in our practice relationship that we function within an anti-oppressive apparatus to prevent implicit or explicit oppressive attitudes. Those oppressive attitudes that undermine our transformational authority to create and maintain change (For example, how we speak can either inspire change or further marginalize and dehumanize).

If Anti-oppression practice is to be effective it should be seen on the impact it has on the people we relate with. It becomes ambiguous and counter intuitive  if we want to empower and help change the lives, impact our organisation and world while our thinking, attitude, and action continue to maintain the status quo. If we desire to see real change in our everyday practice relationships the transformational change first begins with ‘Self’.

Challenge to anti-oppression practice

The biggest challenge to anti-oppression practice is the cycle of oppression that continues to manifest itself implicitly and explicitly and can only be interrupted with awareness of Self and its impact on the relationships as well as systems it inhabits.

As the cycle of oppression is all pervasive it is important for anti-oppression practitioners to be aware of how organizational politics and relationships can continue to manifest the core of fear, confusion, ignorance and insecurity. The collective movement should be to intentionally move towards the core of self-love, self-esteem, balance, joy, support, security and have a spiritual base to this practice. If we can have that we can then create movement and action in the organization that is towards anti-oppression liberatory consciousness.

Realm of Self work

To create the core of self-love, self-esteem, balance, joy, support and security, self-work is imperative. Anti-oppression practice requires a commitment to growth mindset, celebrating resistance. AOP requires us to hold ourselves and look beyond to influence and transform. To hold ourselves with love and self-esteem beyond ego and create an inclusive anti-oppressive space for healing and growth. This work is not easy and requires understanding of triggers, reactions, intent and impact.

I suggest following tools for an anti-oppressive practice

  1. Witnessing self (Practice derived from Sakshibhaav in Hindu Yoga tradition).
  2. Iceberg of behavior and belief
  3. Neuro-biology of triggers and reactions
  4. Somatic work for internalized trauma
  5. Practice of pause and generative meaning making
  6. Practice of curiosity, humility and self-management

Witnessing self: This practice is literarily the practice of self- observation. Almost like you are witnessing you own thoughts and biases. This practice is constant and iterative, in which you build muscle to reflect as you act. Some also call it being in the balcony to watch yourself in a dance.

Iceberg of behavior and belief: When we can notice ourselves the first thing, we notice is our behavior and thought. We can use Freud’s iceberg model to look at what are the underlying factors for our behavior. This cannot be used to judge others behavior but only to work on self and understand our motivations a little bit better.

Neuro-biology of triggers and reactions: If we understand our triggers and can find a pathway to create a space for an empowering meaning, we can truly liberate ourselves from the fear, confusion and insecurity that is harbored in our limbic brain.

Somatic Body work for internalized trauma: It is important to understand that oppression and generations of oppression manifests itself not only in the brain but bodies of color and culture. Stretches, Running, Dancing, Yogasanas as well as trauma release practices can be effective in releasing trauma stored in the body.

Practice pause and generative meaning making: Amygdala hijack takes about six seconds to manifest. If we are able to pick up a trigger before it takes over, we can then create a space of pause by generative meaning making. In generative meaning making, we ask an empowering question to engage our rational brain and away from short circuiting to the limbic brain. The empowering question allows us to become curious about the situation and the trigger itself, thus creating a detached space of self-care. Some of the questions that we can ask are: What meaning am I making of this situation? How can I create an empowering meaning that supports the core of Self-love and Joy?

Trigger + Pause (Generative meaning making) = Empowered Response

Practice of curiosity, humility and self-management: Always practice coming from curiosity, humility and self-manage to create anti-oppressive space.

Mindset and beliefs for AOP

Anti-oppressive practice requires that each practitioner comes from a systemic lens and understanding of Power, Privilege, Rank, Race and Culture dynamic. This allows for the practitioner to see the systems and create shifts in policies, structures and contribute in creating deeper shifts in consciousness.

Where there is oppression three characteristics are present:

Systemic: It is systemic, organizational and societal. It is not just individuals with prejudiced beliefs and actions, but rather is embedded within the structure.

Power imbalance: It involves a dominant or more powerful group exploiting a less powerful group based on perceived differences between the groups. There is always a power imbalance at play.

Denial: The powerful group often denies that oppression exists or accepts it as being normal or right.

Oppression can manifest in different ways. It may be conscious or unconscious. Unconscious oppression is especially hard to tackle, because it is less visible and overt. However, both conscious and unconscious oppression can manifest in one’s attitudes and beliefs or in one’s behaviour. 

My beliefs for my Anti-Oppression practice:

All humans are equal and have a good intent

All human’s are parts of each other and manifest in each other’s life for self-learning and growth, one human’s growth is part of collective growth (comes from my Hindu and Buddhist philosophy)

All souls are immortal and eternal, they are never born and will never die- (comes from philosophy in Geeta)

Lust, greed and anger are a path to self-destruction- (comes from philosophy in Geeta)

Celebrating resistance and challenge as an opportunity

Challenge has an exciting and pulsating energy and sometimes it can cause fear of the unknown, if we can look beyond fear and see challenge as an opportunity for our growth through disciplined effort, then we can move from the Unconscious competence of not knowing to the skilled application of Unconscious competence.

Anti-Oppressive practices and consciousness when used in leadership and organizational development can create ripples of transformation ranging from self, organization, society and our planet.

——-

Gifts of 2020- Year end integration

This workbook is my gift of love to you


“Your task is not seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

rumi

2020 has been a special year for all of us and the night has been long and dark. To me, it feels like we are in the woods, waiting for that smoke to clear and the fire to be put out. This waiting is familiar, being in the woods without any direction is familiar to many of us.

2020 has become a portal to integrate all that we have learnt in our life’s journey. It created a crucible to test our decisions that we have made in life, a crucible to see the systems in which we exist and how we have played by its rules to survive. As we come on the other side of this portal, let us take time to create a pause within the pause of 2020, that has brought to forefront of: What is really important for us as individuals and as humanity?

Here I have created a short year end workbook for integration, healing and moving forward. Hope you find it useful. These exercises can be done individually or in a small trusted group setting.

Remember, What you seek is seeking you

rumi
  1. What is an image or metaphor that comes to your mind when you think of this year? (No words needed allow your right brain processing to happen and think of only images, colors and metaphors, go ahead a draw, paint or use free hand and allow your pen, colors to free flow)
  2. Look at the colors and images- see what stands out most for you, make a note.
  3. Find a safe and clear space and do this somatic practice: Stand with your legs shoulder apart and hands hung loose from your shoulders, palms facing forward. Close your eyes and notice your breathing, feel your finger tips as you breath and notice the rise and fall of your chest-belly as you breath. Become fully present to it. As you become more and more present, notice the movement waiting to emerge in your body and allow the movement to happen, that movement will lead to another and another, allow for the movements to flow through your body. There might be a sound wanting to emerge and let it emerge organically. Allow for this to happen until your body wants to stop. Lie down on your back and rest. Allow deep listening and emergence to happen. This would help your body to align with your breath and energise you.
  4. Find a relaxed position and sit with a notebook and pen. Close your eyes and listen to all the messages 2020 has tried to bring to you, write down, doodle as you listen.
  5. Give your self permission to be relaxed, calm and in silence. Be in complete curiosity and do not allow any judgement or critique of what is emerging for you, just be in observance.
  6. Think of a time and share a story of how 2020 empowered you, made you aware of something more than you already knew and how are you integrating that wisdom as you are stepping into 2021.
  7. What have you learnt about yourself in 2020 that has expanded your understanding of ‘Who you are?’ and your gifts?
  8. Take few minutes to look at all that you have noted in this workbook. Sit with it. Notice what you see waiting to emerging for you in 2021.

Let us step into the new with awareness and with your eyes a little more open

“We all may have come on different ships, but we all are in the same boat now.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Generative Jobs for sustenance and wellbeing- Dismantling colonialism in the ‘Job Industry’

Few years back, I was doing a focussed group discussion on value alignment and a small part of this discussion was to understand what people’s jobs felt like. This was a metaphorical and imaging exercise to tap beyond language, unconscious and unsaid. Few patterns of thoughts that emerged caught my attention: there was always a wall, a chain, block, and many other ways in which people expressed their disempowerment through images. Some felt like they were driving a bus full of people and didn’t know where it was headed, some felt like everything looked ok on the surface but there one leg felt chained under the table. One person shared that every morning feels like they wake up and stare at a wall. This was not surprising, I guess we have all heard some of these expressions around coffee dispensers. Of course this was not a feeling all the time- there were also feelings of meaningful contribution, creativity etc., but there seemed to be something about the design of the mindset through which the jobs were designed that was holding the key to expanding the unmet potential needs of these people. I started to dream and realised that the mindset of ‘Human Resources for Organisation’ needed a paradigm shift to ‘Organisation resources for Humans’.

This framework of thought needs reflection as we have been conditioned with narratives of serving an organisation that then in-turn serves a bigger vision; however, the bigger vision is usually achieved by oppressing, marginalising and walking over several people who come to serve the organisation and when that organisation has no collective consciousness and understanding of sustainable ecosystems, it creates power structures that are oppressive. It creates pecking order, inauthentic insidious spaces which allow pockets of power, privilege and lack of responsibility in leadership.

This got me thinking, What makes a job energising? How can we create job descriptions as a generative container, where a person can feel growth? where people didn’t feel trapped, used or manipulated. How can spaces of generative conversations create emergence and magic.

Here is something I learnt from my work as an OD consultant for over a decade regarding what is important for people and what energises them. As per my observation, there are 3 energy components of a Job, I call them Triple anchor, The first two are creating the container for observance, awareness and alignment and the third is for emergence.

  1. Being: Who and what is the person supposed to be in this job? What metaphors or images come to mind when you think of this job? What is empowering and energising about this job? How can that be expanded and brought to the centre of this role while designing the Job?
  2. Personal Stand: What are the values that are crucial to this job and its mission? What personal values would support this role? Allow the role holder to create their own ‘stand’ for the job. Support Integration of the Role holder’s life story that bring the role holder to this place
    • The stand would include a personal commitment, vision and a body posture for somatic integration that allows stepping into the being the Role.
    • The Job description will have well being practices and creative ideas for stepping into the role.
  3. Doing: The doing part is the part that emerges when we can hold the first two. This is the action that has to be emergent, dynamic, and come from a co-creational space. This should not be defined concretely, as that can become the biggest energy block. Also this must continue to evolve based on internal and external feedback.

The Triple anchor job design requires self work on the part of the organisation, where there is a deeper understanding of what is the collective purpose of the organisation and how is it informed by Self, Collective and Ecological consciousness. Some people ask me what about jobs that are only transactional in nature what do we do about them? I say they should cease to exist, if they don’t energise, keeping such jobs alive will suck energy of people. The next generation jobs shouldn’t be just informed by the bottom line, they should be informed by ‘What it means to Grow and create sustainable future?’

Anatomy of Power

Power is a malleable, invisible, infectious and multifaceted energy component that has a life cycle. Power generates a quantum field, which has the ability to grow or reduce ideas depending on the DNA (Dominant Narrative Association*). Power has the capacity to energise and de-energise at the same time. Human beings have a special connection with ‘Power’. Power can be both internal and external, it can be manifest and hidden. Power is one word can can mean several things at a time that can be both articulate and confusing. It is one word that can cause wars and deep human transformation. Power is evident and is felt like the heat of summer and the winter chill, you can sense its presence. If we name it, it may give power or take away from it, so there is always a negotiation happening with power. It keeps our heart beating, keeps us alive and it can also kill us. Every interaction with self or the other has power present. People can be born into power and thus may have unearned privilege and access to power. Sometimes people born in oppression and disempowerment can rise to have power. People who remain in power for too long can have power blindness that narrows their levels of empathy and perspective.

As a coach, leader, human, your insight into your relationship to Power is of extreme importance and has moral, ethical value to it.

Symbols of Power:

-Body type, Language, Race, Rank, Economic status, Type of car you drive, Clothes you wear, Brands you use, People you associate with, Spaces/Geographies you have easy access to etc.

Interaction with Power:

Humans and many animals since birth learn to associate and strategise their relationship to Power for survival. In initial years it means access to resources like food and security where the power is seen to lie with the parent. As the child grows the child is able to re-negotiate the terms and access to resources and comfort and may have shared power. However movement is always towards access to power. All this intuiting, sharing, understanding the dynamic of power is constantly learned and unlearned as the child grows into adulthood and happens through a process of ‘meaning making’. Symbols of power are introduced at an early age by social narratives and underpinnings of- what is felt, what is said, what is unsaid and what meaning is derived about the dynamic that co-exists. Usually the goal is for the child to have power as the child comes into adulthood. All behaviours and relating is learnt with respect to power.

Impact of ‘Power’ and its lasting relationship to ‘Self’:

Our relationship to external power dictates our relationship to our internal power that sources ‘Self’. Power has the capacity to both inspire and harm ‘Self’, E.g. You may get inspired by a leader and thus perceive them to have more power and in the process start seeking their validation that ends up disempowering you. The understanding of corrupt power, oppression and its manifestations helps us learn more about who we are as an oppressor and as an oppressed. It helps us learn about our agreements with Power. Also when we see power we could give away our power. E.g. Someone entering their CEO’s cabin with jelly knees.

Our agreements with Power are complex, fluid and depend on our experiences, personal symbols and continual meaning making:

-I want power, I will do anything to be in power, I will be compliant to power, I will rebel where I see power, I will negotiate with power, I will always associate with power and move towards it, I can see toxic power and I will rebel against it, I have enough ‘self’ power that helps me stand against any corrupt power, my ‘self’ power depends on the type of power present etc.

Remaining in observation of power, its interaction with self, its ability to influence, its ability to inspire and corrupt are all important for creating a systemic understanding of Power and thus helps us come from a space of awareness and sometimes a space of choice.

*Dominant Narrative Association: The association that we have with the dynamic dominant narratives running in the society, that can be seen in the collective unconscious as themes and symbols. E.g. When you see a picture of a wife serving a man on table, or an advertisement with many women wanting one man, there are gender biases being created in our mind about who has the power.

Crystal Clear

What is this obsession with clarity?

Who is clear and who is not?

Fuzzy visions, fuzzy ideas

Whose lens are we using to seek clarity?

I am in love with your ideas

I am in love with your thoughts

Then who is this begging for clarity?

Bring your vision to play and cheer

Let’s energize and make life easy to bear

What is this obsession with clarity?

If you have clarity, bring it on

Take charge, I shall follow you

Whose lens are we using to seek clarity?

Mind trap

Whose story? Whose Fatigue?

My life my intrigue

I am in a trap

Is it mine or is it yours

Whose story? Whose Fatigue?

The cycle has to stop

Generations of hopelessness

The cycle has to stop

Who is oppressed? Who is the oppressor?

Is it me for me or you for me or me for you?

Such a mind trap?

Whose story? Whose Fatigue?

Diversity-Inclusion-Equity

Couple of years back I was sitting with my co-facilitators, discussing on the matter of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. When one of the facilitators, came up with a beautiful anecdote, that I am presenting it as I remember:

Once upon a time a really rich man was visiting a destitute land. He met a poor man in the land and asked “what is it like to be hungry?”. The poor man tried to describe the feeling of being hungry. Knowing this intellectually now, the rich man, said, “I now understand hunger and the feeling of it”. He had added knowing feeling of hunger to the number of things he already knew and was happy, almost feeling that this was enlightenment. However, to know what is hunger of a poor man, you have to be hungry. You have to be hungry, knowing that you may not get food. This is not at all comparable with a rich man going hungry out of choice, because what the poor man lacks is, choice.

The poor man doesn’t have a choice to be or not be hungry. That makes the experience totally different than the person operating with a choice.

I was intrigued by what my co-facilitator had just related, because most of the time, people who are in a place of choice can easily negate the power of choice. Who in the system has a choice and who doesn’t, many times depends on where they come from, thus creating difference in experiences.

In such a scenario, imagine when the rich man, goes back to his prosperous land and writes a best selling book about his ‘Experience with Hunger’, and comes out with ‘so called valuable’ spiritual advice. He makes more money, becomes more rich, and the real experience of hunger doesn’t find a way to express itself.

What do you think happened?

Equity was lost.

(Picture taken from Culturalorganising.org, for more visit: culturalorganising.org, D5coalition.org, ttp://www.opensourceleadership.com/documents/DO%20Definitions.pdf)

Many organisations both for-profit and non-profit are looking at ways to create more diversity and inclusion. In my previous article, ‘Creating a Cultural Container for Diversity’, I spoke about the intent and difficulties organisations may face while on their journey to creating diverse and inclusive organisation (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/creating-cultural-container-diversity-rashmi-dixit/).

In this article I want to bring spotlight on the third element, without which it is difficult to create a diverse and inclusive organisation, and that element is ‘Equity’.

Creating a strategy for ‘Equity’ in the organisation can be a grounding experience, and will only come from the intent of the collective leadership.

The intent to create Diversity, Inclusion and Equity will have to become part of the values that the organisation strives to work with. Remember if the organisation starts to erroneously believe that it already has these values just because the top management talks about it, it will never be able to successfully roll out the cultural change it is looking for (ttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/humane-organisations-delusional-disorder-rashmi-dixit/ ). All voices will need to be included in this process.

The process includes assessment of current status, on;

How do people in the organisation understand Diversity, Inclusion and Equity?

What are their feelings about Diversity, Inclusion and Equity?

What do they understand about Power, Privilege, Rank, Race and Culture?

Based on the current position, organisations can strategise and design, where they want to move to. The movement and journey, will have a greater momentum when it is collective and introspective process.

Organisations would need to understand that inclusion will have to be shown by example, and that it would then, build more inclusion of diversity. Human process labs, group discussions, coaching and facilitations can support this entire journey.

Refer:

Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matter

https://turnerconsultinggroup.weebly.com/blog-tana-turner/category/equity