Diversity Is The Norm. Not The Exception.

Lisa Greene, Jay Alba and Laura Chamberlain smile at the camera

My Process of Unlearning

Reflections from a Year in: Working with LTHJ Global

Editor’s Note: We were thrilled when Lisa came to us with this piece. It is part of our mission at LTHJ Global to include our own team in the ongoing unlearning journey, and it is our shared honor to work with Lisa toward our mutual growth and flourishing.

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I have considered myself to be an activist before it was the right thing to do. I have always been prone to ensuring that the person with the least had access to the most. Also, ensuring that equality was not based on gender or the color of a person’s skin. Being raised in the North did not prepare me for the changes that accompanied relocating to the South. My three decades plus experience of being in social services is what led to my desire to show up differently and engage in consultant work with LTHJ Global. 

It is refreshing and exciting to be a part of a company that is looking to normalize diversity and create space to help other companies step up to the plate in the area of DEI. As I look to use my life experience and training to remain a part of the solution, I am now realizing that this is as much of a teaching experience for me as it is for the companies I work with to create diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces.

The process of unlearning is ongoing and I wanted to take this opportunity to normalize the unlearning process. 

Some Things I’m Un/Learning

Genderism

In my quest to be gender inclusive in my communication style, I have to remain mindful of typical communication surrounding the assumptions of one’s gender. For example, just the other day I was leaving the store and said, ”You ladies have a good day.” This appeared to be a normal salutation as I was leaving, but it bothered me because I made the assumption that because they presented as women, this was their identity.

Another salutation that is widely used in my region but also biased is the “you guys,” which indicates that others (outside of the male gender) are not present or worthy of being acknowledged. I now greet groups with a simple “hello everyone!”

I have become comfortable asking what pronouns are appropriate and desirable; this is one of the ways that demonstrates my commitment to allow others the space to be authentic while in shared spaces with me.


Ableism

My commitment to inclusion also covers the ways that I am more mindful when hosting spaces, virtually or in person. I am learning ways to be more inclusive when conducting meetings or holding other spaces. I focus on the things that are obvious but also the ones that are not visible such as challenges with ADHD and those on the spectrum.

For example, individuals with ADHD may need to move around and have more access to breaks to maintain their attention span. The virtual arena is often more difficult than in person contact for those with ADHD and autism. Individuals on the spectrum can experience stimuli overload when trying to stay focused on the material if there is a distracting background or excessive movement by other participants.

When creating presentations, I am mindful of the color palette, font size, and contrast. I take extra steps to provide a space for participants to respond to questions in ways that keep them comfortable and provide information for all processing types.

 

Activism

I am also learning ways to communicate to those that are not yet on the antiracism journey. I live in a U.S. state where this work is minimal if it is occurring at all, and I am always faced with situations that provide me opportunities to call in (as opposed to call out) and teach. I like to think that I use my quick wit and authentic personality to shoot one liners that are often thought provoking.

Let me provide an example: my husband and I were at a hotel pool and I commented that it was thoughtful that they had an accessible chair for the pool. The maintenance person replied, “It’s a pain in the ass to use” and my reply was “it’s probably more of a pain to have to use it.”

I am committed to being a part of the solution even when it’s not comfortable for me or the person that has engaged in behaviors that I can no longer write off as “oh well.” 


Shared Commitment

LTHJ Global proudly shares values that lead the way our company works. I can honestly say that I feel these principles embodied in any LTHJ Global space that I am a part of, but I have also learned to use these principles for myself when I am working to help others on their anti-oppression journey.

I give myself grace because I do and will continue to make mistakes – but I want to make them quicker and continue to be accountable.

I remain determined to do my part in making our world accept diversity as the norm.

I have to be creative in my presentation because I know that everyone is not in a space to challenge their thoughts.

I have learned that the greatest growth is when I’m uncomfortable because it is only then that I am committed to making things better for me and others. 

 

And now, I’d love to hear from you: what are you learning or unlearning where you work?