If inclusion initiatives increase productivity and innovation in business, imagine how they could do the same for your classroom/institution.
If inclusion initiatives increase employee satisfaction and retention in business, imagine how they could increase the attention and literacy of students.
Tony Dungy, first Black NFL coach to win a Super Bowl, says, “Inclusion initiatives need to have Emotional Intelligence (EI) as part of their foundation. EI is necessary for all groups to work well together. Self-Awareness and Social-Awareness are key elements of EI. They allow others to trust that you authentically care about their feelings.”
A vital part of Self-Awareness is acknowledging your own stereotypes and biases. Consider the ideas you absorbed from family, teachers, religion, and the media that don’t serve you or your students well today.
Noted author and speaker Valerie Alexander suggests these methods to practice eliminating biases in your work environment:
- Make sure that access to persons of authority is equally and neutrally available to all students. Seek to identify and neutralize any access barriers to marginalized students/employees.
- Amplify the contributions of those who are not being acknowledged without repeating what they say but by guiding the conversation back to them.
- Ask yourself, ‘Who in this setting has to be perfect just to have a feeling of belonging here?’ Then ask yourself, ‘How can I help that person to feel like they belong?’
Tony Dungy also says that another word for Social-Awareness could be ‘empathy’. “Social Awareness/Empathy can be nurtured by investing in listening and learning to understand each individual so that each employee/student can be comfortable to talk about their true self.”
- Consider how you could restructure situations that leave any employee/student to feel unseen or unheard.
- Consider the courage it takes to speak up. Marginalized people have been socially groomed to not speak up, therefore, persons of authority need to recognize the seriousness of a marginalized person speaking up.
- Be on guard for the tendency to see another’s point of view as ‘wrong’ just because it’s different than yours. Strive to see other perspectives as ‘another possible way.’
- Develop a curiosity about how another might see things from a different perspective.
- Educate yourself about people different from yourself. Use curiosity as a source of information and strength.
Being inclusive means challenging your biases and stereotypes, being curious, being humble, being empowering, and valuing the well-being of all.
Terry Boyd, PhD., Professor at the University of Southern Florida, stresses, “Anyone pursuing inclusion initiatives as part of their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts should keep in mind that DE&I is an ongoing journey rather than a sprint, or even a marathon. DE&I efforts need to be continuous.”
Where and when could you utilize strategies for Self-Awareness and Social-Awareness to improve your learning environment?
- Tony Dungy, University of Southern Florida, College of Business online course: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace, Module 1
- Valerie Alexander, USF, College of Business online course: DE&I in the Workplace, Module 2
- Tony Dungy, SF, College of Business online course: DE&I in the Workplace, Module 1
- Terry Boyd, PhD., USF, College of Business online course: DE&I in the Workplace, Module 4