Joerg Schmitz 0:08
Welcome to The Inclusive Leader Podcast. The practice of inclusive leadership enables us to tackle the complex challenges of our times. This is the space for conversations about inclusive leadership. I am your host York Schmitz and I welcome you to this episode.
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 0:27
Welcome everyone. My name is definitely fromage and I'll be hosting our first spotlight wrap up conversation of season one. As you might already know, the first spotlight season of the inclusive leadership institute explored the expertise of a variety of faculty members. Each illuminated a different facet of inclusive leadership and delivered some very practical takeaways. Next, you'll hear my conversation with three experts. May Snowden a leading specialist and experienced practitioner in diversity, equity and inclusion strategy globally and locally. Malini Janakiraman, a leadership development leader, consultant and coach and York Schmitz, a business anthropologist and Managing Director of the inclusive leadership institute. Our conversation reflects on this wealth of learning and sets the stage for what is next at the inclusive leadership institute says our conversation was extensive, we decided to provide it in two parts. Here is part one of our conversation. Welcome, everyone. We're here today to discuss season one.
This is a wrap up session where we will have a conversation we will share our favorite insights, we will connect different pieces and pull apart maybe some questions that we have maybe your favorite parts of the season. So we're gathered with York, Milani, and may today, thank you so much for joining. And the variety of topics and experts that season one covered is truly amazing. I was a listener myself, and it was a fantastic experience. I grew up a lot as a bi practitioner. But it was not always easy, right? There were hard questions, concepts that we might need to digest a little bit more. So that's the purpose of this conversation today. And to start, I would like to ask you, what's your favorite piece of season one, something that you learned something that stuck with you that you would like to share with this group.
Malini Janakiraman 2:39
One thing that really resonated with me was that Valerie Purdue Vaughn, Dr. Valerie Purdue Vaughn, from when she talked about identity based belonging, that was a huge learning for me. Because I started connecting it to many, many other pieces of, of the spotlight sessions, the things I've been grappling with in my own life, and in what I share with others, because you see, often the word belonging in our beta test is is offered as a one size fits all. And it doesn't always work. And when she talked about that, it was a big aha for me. And I'm going to connect that to what I learned from me. Several years ago, when we were all sitting and talking in New Jersey and the word belonging, we were just using it like it is the best word from from forever. And she said to us, that doesn't resonate with me, because it goes back to some connections to slavery, that is hurtful. Right? So putting that, along with what what Dr. Valerie Purdue, Vaughn said, and connecting it to what I truly believe that leaders don't always get to know their people very well, was a huge learning for me. And I was wondering, May, what is it that you might have learned?
May Snowden 4:12
Well, thanks, Malini. I think I'm gonna go back to an insight that I received from Vince Varallo Creole and he spoke to us about language. And I just think that that just brought me to the point of how impactful political movements are politics. I remember when we had a political movement in the United States of English only English only, nobody was to speak any other language in the school systems. Nobody was to speak any language at work, other than English if you didn't know any Unless you better learn it, because you're still going to be evaluated based on the responsibilities you have to get your job done even if you don't understand the language. I mean, it was just, just from my perspective, it was a horrible situation. And then I look at at what that did to us. So now other countries are involved time, the people in their countries are multilingual. Here in the United States, we are not, we're we're a little bit better just because of people coming to the US that speak a different language. But we have not been intentional. We have not been intentional of being global. So we have caused and and made ourselves separate. We have a separate mindset. And I just go right back to what Vince said about this. Come right back to what is happening, we're not and then I can look at some of the other speakers that spoke on curiosity, and being agile, and what's your brand looking like? And and I and I just bring it right back to? Who are we and what is it that we really want? Are? Is Critical Race Theory really an issue? Or is it the same thing that we were talking about English only? So what is what can we really wrap our arms around and be more inclusive and more open to our connection with everybody because everything is connected? So I really did get a lot from Vince, but all of the speakers your you really did an outstanding job and selecting the speakers, they all had something fantastic to say. And it all knitted together, you know, everybody had a different beautiful string that we have put in this beautiful tapestry. And it all just smoothly went together. And I just want to thank you for that.
Joerg Schmitz 7:03
Thank you may. This is a tough question, Stephanie. I mean that because I feel like you know, I don't want to pick favorites right here out of the out of because I've been curating this, this at least the first season here. And so that's why I probably resonate with some insights that I think were for me very foundational, and I'll call on some people that you hadn't mentioned. Yet, me and Malini you know, so first of all, I'm very pleased that the that English resonated, you know, for me, it's one of those under explored dimensions of diversity, especially in global organizations, and where there is a real need for leaders to exercise inclusiveness around a and I mean, we can even attest to this here on on on, you know, on our, in our group, right in our little group here, we have different varieties of English spoken, right by each of us different stories of English, some native, some non native. And it's it's, it's not easy, right? It's it's, it's a it's like all dimensions of diversity that you know, if you're if you're not familiar with the dominant norms, then you're hyper, hyper aware of this as a feature and the, you know, this has always been from the very beginning of me needing to live and work in an English speaking environment. This has been, you know, a dimension I've I struggled with every day. And and while I feel comfortable in English, it took a long time. It took a long time, and have very deliberate practice attention and work that many people haven't seen or known about. Of course, I'm you know, it this identity based belonging topic, as Malini, as you said, for me was huge, you know, because, because the because of the shorthand that is happening in DNI or in many organizations around belonging, everybody talks about belonging and it's, it's for me, it's troubling historically, for the same reasons that that may you brought out and that resonated with Malini. It's also troubling for me for other reasons, right. And we read about layoffs in companies all the time and so forth, while while these companies are talking about belonging, and, and, you know, this this narrative around belonging to some degree doesn't doesn't sit so well. I understand the intention, you know, and I think Valerie brought that out, you know, and I think to what you were saying, Malini your contributions around getting this this question, do we really know our people and do we understand their 3d International, and also intersectional histories, that's where, you know, you know, a coach was contributions Dr. Paul for, you know, talked about the intersectionality, not just as a, as a fact that we all represent, but also as a pathway of healing. You know, and this is where, to me this all comes together inclusive leadership is also the act of healing, you know, in micro environments, in micro in relationships, perhaps, and sometimes at the organizational level, making a contribution to healing a very painful social relational wounds that we carry around that are coming to our consciousness now in this current time. And, and that's why I always believe that inclusive leadership is so key. But let me let me just bring two other points out that are important to me. Each of the spotlight sessions, in my view, has given us a way of explaining a phenomenon and also turning that explanation into some sort of an action. Right and, and every spotlight had a different weighting of these two elements. Some spotlights were clearly more on the explanation side. So when I think about Milton Bennett's you know, contributions to helping us maybe think about culture differently, and finding a different pathway into measuring that was more on the explaining side, you know, in the quantum negotiation conversation with Karen was more important, perhaps more on the explanation side, also the conversation with Mark. And also Valerie was more on the explanation side, and but all had a pathway to action. And then there were some that were more on the action side, Malini your your contribution certainly was there, the judging softly content by Anne-Barbara was there. Jessica's? Even our contributions around disability was much more on the action side. And so I liked that balance, because that's what it's all about as inclusive leaders we need to understand learn to understand the world differently, and then turn it into action. I, what I found myself resonating with perhaps the most was something that Laura Liswood said, When She invoked Howard Gardner on these four elements of what leaders need to be doing particular the fourth one traveling outside of our worldview. And to me, all of these were contributions to help leaders put this into practice, and not just travel outside of our world, we were integrated into a transformational challenge. And, you know, to to build a different practice. Sorry, I took a long time. So that's, that's what kind of was on my mind.
Malini Janakiraman 13:10
No, may I, I'm gonna turn it right over to you Stephanie in but I just want to just add one little thing here your to watch, if that's okay with everyone. So as you talk to your, you know, one of the things that stood out for me, as I looked at all 12 sessions is the word meta. Right, stepping back. And then you just hit it on the head right now, when you talked about step when Laura Liswood said, outside one's own world view. Right. So let me tell you where I found that coming up again and again and again. Aaron wash talked about do you do you serve with a larger purpose? She even brought the word spiritual in their negotiations and you know, you never think of the word spiritual with negotiation. Right. Cheryl Williams talked about stepping back and being, you know, compassionate. When you ask questions. And and Milton Bennett, you know, he says, of course, an an Karen Walch. Use the word quantum, right. It's beyond just the simplicity of it. So to me, that is such a powerful element of being able to emotionally regulate yourself as a leader, as Anne-Barbara said in judging softly, right, I'm a judger. I gotta tell you, I am a judger par excellence. I've got to stop and ask myself Where did that come from? But if you take this learning from Your sessions and you say the word is stepback. Metta outside your worldview, Jessica says we are more than our disabilities. You know, if you're just looking at someone and judging them on that disability step back. So me, for me this word metta resonated with so many of your sons. Yes.
May Snowden 15:21
Yeah, I want to add to that to that thank you, Malini. Because I was thinking back to my own personal experience, when I was asked to lead the eni. And, of course, I went in into the job kicking and screaming. However, the first thing that they sent me to was a T group experience, which, you know, I just don't hear any CDOs going to T group experiences now. However, it was the best thing ever for me, because, oh, human interactive experience for me that cause really look at
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 16:04
Sorry, mate, can you briefly explain what this experience is about?
May Snowden 16:08
The T group? Okay, all right, I'm gonna try to, but it looks at it's a human interaction experience. So we are learning how are our actions, how our actions to other people and other people's actions toward us, impact us and how we relate in a conversation and behave and and think through it and how we process information, it really gets into a lot of more detailed stuff that we didn't really address there, such as conflict resolution, and problem solving all those skills that you learn in, in when you focus in on business skills. But this one was focused in on our own behavior, which is something that we're going to be folk working towards, how do we stop just, you know, communicating what it is that we stand for, and actually live it. So we had to come to the point where we could see ourselves, and people could give us feedback. And we could give others feedback. And we learned there was a lot of tears shed in the end in our sessions. But I tell you, that was the best thing ever for me, because I needed to know how I'm going to come across towards other people, how other people are going to receive the message? How can I explain the message in a way that other people can receive it based on their experiences in life. So we really got into those kinds of things that, you know, that I think are probably integrated into our non bias training now. But it was a human interaction experience. I did it through in NTL, and they've been doing this for over seven years, they are the best. But it really helps you develop those skills that we heard about through our speakers, the curiosity skills, the agility skills, the deep listening skills, all of those things, even the spiritual skills, and all of those skills were were part of this process. So I'm hoping that somebody will pick up on this human interaction experiences, because until we get that, so that
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 18:37
exercise may that you just did from connecting the spotlights with your own experience. I think that was something that myself I also had to go through because we are embedded right in, in our professional experience with the AI. world, right, and the spotlights going to make you I think, connect and create linkages to each of our own experiences. Right. So you, you actually did a really interesting exercise, right of what's in there. The ideas, the theory, and what's actually what we're doing as practitioners, what are the linkages? Maybe that the potential, you know, enhancements that we can use from the spotlight sessions. So that exercise I'm curious also to hear from Melanie and York, what was your experience around your own professional life and spotlight sessions?
Malini Janakiraman 19:32
I'll tell you, I'm going to use the word colonialism in explaining that. I grew up in India, right. I was born the year the British left my mother would always say they they knew you were coming and they said goodbye
that the country
went through 250 years of colonialism. Now, we were to grow up being even though we were free, the aura of colonialism was very much there, I went to a British missionary school. And every day I was made to feel less than by the teachers who were from England. Fast forward, I grew up that way, I come over to the United States, I'm an immigrant. And now I'm told I'm a person of color, where I was a part of the majority over there. Okay, so this, I think the word othering has come up in in the sessions, right? I know. Dr. Ampofo, it's a very much part of her thinking. Right? So I think Stephanie, there is always this notion of what have you been made to feel as a human being about your identity, and you start listening to speakers and making those connections to say, ah, that's why this is so hard for me, ah, that's why I need to step out and listen to someone who's not like me, because they've been put into some categories, based on how people see the world view. And so now that word colonialism, you know, in fact, I would say that is one of the left, if you will, if you will, something that I am still not comfortable with? How is it being handled? ways in which people say, you know, maybe the power in a, is it a power with or a power on? I never felt that if you are colonized, that you have a negotiating voice? So I think to answer your question, that that piece of it my own personal experience, really has an impact for me, as a as a personal immigrating, being different being in the margins a lot, you know, I was the only woman in Honeywell for many, many, many years in meetings. And I'm four foot 11 and a half inches tall, and I'm different. So that's what I would say had an impact on me, as I heard all this right, you're covered you.
Joerg Schmitz 22:29
Yeah. I love that you just brought this up. Because even though we didn't have a, an explicit focus on this in the spotlight sessions, and I think we probably need to a little more, I would almost call this a little bit that the time we're in right now. And especially the DNI conversations, and the the social movements, whether it's me to Black Lives Matter, any of these, these topics, and social issues almost spell out the return of history, and not the return of history in the way that we learn it in school, right. It's not the about dates and events. But it's, it's understanding that we are in structures and in relationships, and in contexts that are deeply that are the product of a history and the painful history at that, in which we our ancestors are all differently implicated. And that puts us at a very difficult intersectional crossroads, as, as Dr. UNPO forehead articulated, even her articulation of the restitutions that need to be made, and that are being made and the the to me that this is very important that while we are waking up to the need for that. And while restitution oftentimes takes place in financial or economic terms, which is of course really necessary. But the real act of healing is in our relational and entropy, our interactive spaces, right? That how do we feel about this and even recognizing that our sense of, you know, no privilege or our sense about ourselves in the world has a historical trail. You know, we that had that that goes right back to, to colonialism and colonial histories, even the fortunes of our economies today, are the direct results of, you know, colonialist past I mean, I'm looking at at Stephanie, you're you're you're in Chile, right? I mean, on a continent with a via very difficult colonial past. I'm sitting in Germany, were on a continent that has historically benefited from a colonial past in different ways. Obviously, there was Portuguese colonialism, there was British colonialism, Malini that you brought to an end? There, there was, you know, obviously, German colonialism that is only actually, interestingly, very recently come into the consciousness of Germans, even though the Nazi past has its own legacies, right? That, that imprinted itself on the on world history. So it's, it's the return of history and understanding that we cannot shed history, but that we need to process history in our interactions. And that's what I think inclusive leadership is our bodies on this part of the mission of inclusive leadership. So that's why we need to tackle difficult issues around power and other ring, the notions the categories even this is what has always been difficult for me around race. You know, I mean, I learned, you know, in, in, in Germany early, because this was after the Holocaust, and after the Nazi experience, the terrible history of the idea of race, that the idea that first of all, that it's not based in anything real, right. I mean, there is no real basis for a racial classification system, and that it was essentially made up in order to justify, you know, I mean, terrible atrocities in history. And so it's an ideology, you know, the ideology of race led to racist beliefs, racist, you know, actions, the reality of racism, and how do we dismantle it? You know, I mean, that's, that's a, that's a huge challenge. And racism in different forms, right. That's why I always say race is, is an illusion, to lie. And that racism is what's real. And, and, and, and this, that's a difficult message for many people to take in. We can't normalize the word race, you know, even I have a really hard time when when we normalize the use of the word race, because we are feeding the idea that keeps racism alive. But we can't also just be careless about it, and simply saying, Oh, it's a made up thing. So racism, therefore isn't real racism is extremely real. But race is not. And that's, that's a that's an that's a difficult space to sit in anyway. I mean, these are just some things that come up for me as your reflect technology.
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 27:35
I think you're you're going deep into a very important point that sometimes ideas and personal experience go hand in hand as we tried to divide it by what's academic what theory versus our own lives. And I think the beauty of the spotlight sessions, at least to me, was to try to connect both right? And I learned so much more from interesting speakers that I've been following for many, many years. But I, I got a deeper sense of understanding of what they were trying to convey, because of that personal experience. And they were able to share it right. With Dr. Valerie Purdie-Greenaway. Right, her segregation experience in primary school. That was for me, like, so enlightening, right with our own research on these kind of topics. So it's, it's really a beauty and something special on this this season. Right? Yeah. Maybe you would like to add something on this topic.
May Snowden 28:42
I just got a lot out of all of those kinds of things because it applied to my life. Definitely I, you know, I've experienced all those things that she experienced. It was kind of interesting, the way my parents, my mother, when she was born in New Mexico, there were very few black people there. So the schools were integrated. And then when more black people started moving in, they segregated the school. So when I went to first grade through fourth grade, it was segregated. And then all of a sudden, they integrate the schools. And so then I went to a school where all my Mexican friends were because I lived in a Mexican neighborhood and with Native Americans, all the blacks lived in Upper North mesquite. So I didn't live around black people. So then they sent me to that school, the several and then all of a sudden, I was just there one year and they just moved me I didn't know why I was being moved. But they moved me to the white school Central. So then sixth grade, I was moved and so you know, I'm just cut I just felt like I was battling you know, back and forth. And so, eventually I found out it was because of my grade so they were moving me because they said that I You know, I was more in advance. You know, I just decided that they just felt that I was for black person, I was more advanced, you know how they did? So, that so that that happened. So I had the same experiences that were and others that were discussed. So I just, you know, I said, Yep, that's my experience, too. Yeah, that's my experience, too. So, I was right, aligned, definitely. And so it was an aha for me. But I can tell you, the thing that was really hard was this power discussion, and I want to talk about that, because we're having a very difficult time with zero sum game, we're having a very difficult time with shared power and what that means we're having a very difficult time with, you know, what am I going to lose? If you gain, you know, they can't say, Okay, now it's all win, lose, win, lose it, there's no win win in any in the dialogue? And how do you get there? So that's the interesting part for me, Melanie,
Malini Janakiraman 31:11
so I have your nose that the question always comes up for me. So how do we get better? Right? How do we utilize this learning for some actioning that we can all learn? Think about? It may not work for everybody, but at least to offer it to people. And when I heard Mark, Samuel, talk about culture is a habit. Right? And you are you and I, you know, we've done may we've done all these sessions that we talk culture is a habit. And then you I heard Dr. And please forgive me if I don't get the name right. Doctors in the dark and Dr. Jacques Drolet. Talk about your personal mosaic? Yes, it doesn't matter how you are raised you it is it is inevitable that you're going to learn be taught something that becomes part of your worldview, you can step back and change that with self diversity. Right? That was a very good thought for me. Right. So and connecting that with ranking? That and Barbara talks about whenever you interact with people, you're ranking them constantly, right? Here, they're everywhere. So my question is, when you're helping people to change, to do things differently, to do what we're all here talking about? How do you not become patronizing, right? Because whatever you say, sounds like, Oh, you don't really get my worldview, you know, you're talking from your own worldview, right. And so I think, you know, somehow to step back is one, and to listen carefully to put yourself in their shoes. Right. But if you do have to have something that guides you a true north, right, say, this is the big, large reason why we're all doing this, but we are willing to be flexible, how we get there. But we have to cultivate the right habits, the right thought processes, the right behaviors. If not, Stephanie, to your point, it'll all be theory. I that is something I feel very strongly about. I mean, we can theorize till the cows come home. But if we don't translate this, as you know, some of the speakers have said very carefully, right? I'm sharing this. So you know, and you're, I've said this to you, I believe strongly in servant leadership, you serve your people. And then you gave me great insights the other day when you said you serve people in in an inclusive way, not just whom do you choose to serve? How do you help people understand that they've got to stop and step back in order to make change? I'm just going to put that out there. I'm not sure. I think we have to grapple with it. There are no easy answers. Right? And I'm curious to see what all of you think about that.
Joerg Schmitz 34:27
Thank you for listening. You can sign up for more wherever you get your podcasts, just look for The Inclusive Leader Podcast. To find out more about the inclusive leadership institute, visit us at www the inclusive leadership institute.com