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Respecting Differences with Fox Valley SHRM

Does your company want to outperform your competitors, bring in more sales revenue, and return higher profits?  The key, according to McKinsey & Co, is ensuring a diverse workforce, which leads to greater innovation and performance.  To help our chapter members understand better the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we invited our cityís very own Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, Karen Nelson on April 17, 2018.

Ms. Nelson emphasized we all need to have an open mind when working with others.  Diversity is much more than the color of our skin or the color of our eyes. Diversity is the entire history of ourselves.  To understand diversity, we need to walk in each otherís shoes to understand what we each have been through.

To further this point, Ms. Nelson conducted the Privilege Walk with our attendees, which is a powerful self-reflection tool.  The purpose of the Privilege Walk activity is to learn how power and privilege can affect our lives, even when we are not aware it is happening.  This activity gave our members the opportunity to reflect on the different areas of their lives where they have experienced privilege as well the areas where they have not.  The most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and to talk about. We quickly came to realize personally what each of us has overcome in our own lives and career, as well as appreciating that not everyone has had the same experiences as you have had.

As Charles Sykes has said, ďA truly multicultural organization is one which difference is fully respected and valued AND in which the things that connect us are stronger than the things that separate us.Ē As HR professionals, we work hard to ensure our initiatives are inclusive and encourage work environments where everyone has the sense of being accepted as soon as they walk in the doors on their first day, no matter their story.  We also need to keep this in the front of our leadership teams to understand that even though we have a business to run, previous historical stories can shape the future of organizations if we are able to keep an open mind for everyone.

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