Autumn 2023 Newsletter
In this newsletter start with discussing our experience at at recent conference and how we often beat about the inclusion bush, rather than living and breathing it! We need to ‘Say it like it is!’ or in other words, ‘Walk the talk’ to truly embody inclusion.
Watch a talk by Dr Mary Graham on Indigenous Philosophy and Relationist Ethos; read more about walking your talk or success factors for courageous leaders, not forgetting to look after ourselves as serious leaders need self-care too!
Finally, we remind you that we are taking expressions of interest in our Group Coaching Programme ‘The Conscious Leader’ and invite you to read our recent feature in Sussex Chamber of Commerce ‘Business Edge’ publication.
Given the theme of Elephants in the Room, we couldn’t put out this newsletter without referring to what, in many workplaces at this moment, is the most sensitive of issues: the unfolding calamity in Gaza in the wake of the 7 October atrocity in Israel.
We acknowledge the deep fractures and divisions this long-standing conflict evokes in many people. We consider each human being to be of immeasurable value and equal in dignity to every other, and are shocked at the scale of the loss of innocent life.
Our prayers and thoughts go out to all those injured bereaved and displaced – and in other parts of the world that may not be in the headlines right now. We join all those calling for an immediate cessation of the violence to allow essential aid to be provided and enable international efforts to secure the return of all those wrongfully held, with a view to a lasting settlement that honours the rights and dignity of all peoples.
As individuals we each have our own perspectives on these events and seek to talk our truth and walk our talk in many different ways. In our work at the ea consultancy, we feel it is important to acknowledge the great distress experienced by many colleagues touched by these events who may not find their work environment a safe enough space in which to express their feelings.
For us conscious leadership involves and includes the ability to hold brave and protected spaces in which people are encouraged and empowered to express their views and feelings truthfully and to listen deeply, showing mutual respect, particularly to those with whom they disagree.
We recognise this can pose a serious challenge for those tasked with showing leadership who may also find themselves polarised and destabilised by these events. Our commitment is to support you to stay open to these leadership challenges and navigate these with compassion, courage and wisdom.
Prayers for the Earth
For once on the face of the earth let’s not speak in any language
Let’s stop for one second and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines.
We would all be together in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea would not harm whales
And the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire,
Victory with no survivors
Would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers
in the shade doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused with total inactivity,
Life is what it is about.
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single minded about keeping our lives moving,
And for once could do nothing,
Perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never
And of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), “Keeping Quiet”
Extravagaria (translated by Alastair Reid)
Jonathan Cape, London, 1972, pp.27-29
(original Estravagario, Editorial Losada, Buenos Aires, 1958)
Say it like it is – and Give those Elephants a Break
With all the breath we expend on the question of ‘inclusive leadership’, could we spare some for what lives in plain sight but is almost never addressed?
Some time ago, I attended a leadership conference hosted by a regional public body – let’s call it Trust is Us for ease and anonymity. My experience there was no different to that at dozens of similar events held over the years by other organisations. It reminded me again that, when we beat around the ‘inclusion’ bush, rather than living and breathing it, there are at least Five Elephants with us in the room, so large and so loud that it must take a mountain of unconscious effort not to notice them. To the wily observer, however, the unacknowledged presence of these enormous beasts ensures that any meaningful treatment of the problem of how to foster truly inclusive leadership and culture will be well and truly squashed.
In this newsletter, we aim to set the Five Elephants free by naming and inviting you to approach them with curiosity and awareness, to address their questions in your own system, wherever and with whomever you work, and most importantly to ask what your role is, right here and right now in shaping what will happen next…
There are the Five Elephants and their trumpet calls:
- Who is Missing and has Anyone Noticed? What does it tell us about our system – and our idea of normality – when there are swathes of the population almost entirely missing from the room, yet we carry on with ‘business as usual’?
- How do we deal with ‘Reversal of Rank’? The question of inclusivity reverses the usual hierarchy of ‘expertise’ in inequitable systems – with the most senior people often among the least skilled and knowledgeable – how do we confront and work with the bizarre consequences of this?
- What happens if we stop confusing Power with Authority? Those with systemic power rarely have the authority to lead on inclusion. Their attempts to do so result in institutionalised scepticism, or worse. How do we tackle this embarrassing and hazardous state of affairs?
- How can we put an end to all that ‘Talk without Walk’? A lot of time, energy, money, and fanfare – not to mention hot air – is devoted to talking the talk of inclusivity – what would really Walking the Path of inclusivity, day by day look like? Can we do it right here, right now?
- What’s my role in upholding or questioning the status quo? There are no neutral observers – no-one escapes being implicated in the field of diversity and inequity; and no-one is a removed observer with no impact upon the events they are observing. The Fifth Elephant asks the most important question of all, because it involves not pointing at others (over whom we have limited influence) but questioning ourselves (over whom we can at least aspire to have sovereignty). Every one of us has embodied agency and impact, even with our silences – how should we best make use of this?
The ea consultancy is devoted to being helpfully alongside you as you venture to ask the tough questions of yourself, others and your system; and bring the wisdom of ‘head’, ‘heart’, ‘gut’ and ‘hand’ together in service of wise and compassionate ways forward amidst complexity. Read on for a fuller discussion of the 5 Elephants’ questions.
As our regular readers will know, we publish a seasonal newsletter which includes a short editorial – with a link to a longer article – plus other news and research. We are now excited to announce the launch BlogJam – new, affordable online bimonthly conversation space.
Each one hour BlogJam offers an opportunity to go deeper into the theme signalled by the preceding newsletter with others who care about the things you care about. We are sure you will find it a stimulating and though provoking experience.
The first BlogJam on the topic of Inclusion ‘elephants in the room’ and ‘walking our talk’, will take place on Monday 11th December 12.30-1.30 GMT Find out more and get tickets – we hope to see you there!
Further reading – Saying it like it is!
Indigenous Philosophy and the Relationist Ethos
Dr Mary Graham whom I referenced in writing this month’s feature, ‘Say it like it is’. Dr Mary Graham grew up in South-East Queensland, and is a Kombu-merri person through her father’s heritage and a Wakka Wakka clan through her mother’s heritage. With a career spanning more than 30 years, Mary has worked across several government agencies, community organisations and universities. Mary has been a dedicated lecturer with the University of Queensland, teaching Aboriginal history, politics and comparative philosophy.
Mary has written and published many prominent works, including – publications in the Aboriginal Encyclopaedia, training modules for Cross Cultural Awareness and a host of academic papers.
Hear her talk on Indigenous Philosophy and the Relationist Ethos.
Walking our Talk – what does it take to embody inclusion?
Inclusion and diversity have certainly become buzzwords in recent years, but they are more than just a passing fad; They are vital elements to a business’s success. A diverse, inclusive workforce leverages the knowledge and experiences of a broader cross section of society and helps bring the business closer to the people it serves.
However, not all leaders know the best way to promote inclusion and diversity in their businesses, and even some well-intentioned efforts could harm the business in the long run. In this article from Forbes, eight young entrepreneurs discuss some of the more effective ways you can promote diversity and inclusion in your company and explain how these methods can help any business succeed. Read more
Five success factors for DEI initiatives
Leaders need clarity on what works to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lighthouses 2023 Report by World Economic Forum in collaboration with McKinsey & Company shows success factors that contributed to significant, quantifiable, scalable, and sustainable DEI impact. Greater clarity on what works—and what does not—can help leaders effectively create sustainable change.
The report identified success factors for underrepresented groups. The success factors are: a nuanced understanding of the root causes; a meaningful definition of success; accountable and invested business leaders; a solution designed for its specific context; and rigorous tracking and course correction. Read highlights at McKinsey.com, or download the full report from World Economic Forum.
‘Walk the Talk’
We cannot ‘walk the talk’ without taking sincere actions. Diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and belonging require policies and practices that are centred around the well-being of all communities, foregrounding the promotion of social and organisational solidarity.
The European Association for International Education, discuss Walking the Talk and how it is necessary to adopt an intersectional approach to create an inclusive and diverse environment in an education setting. How not to unsee certain things anymore, to become accountable towards the realities that create discrimination, inequity, exclusion, and oppression and how you can then act towards diversity, equity, inclusion, access and belonging. The principles apply equally to the workplace, read the blog post from the EAIE.org website.
Inclusion And Belonging
Sharing Our Stories Builds Inclusion. A study published in the journal Academy of Management revealed that newcomers prefer to hear stories from their peers rather than leaders. If that’s true, why do most inclusion programs leave so little space for peers to share their lived experiences?
Look in the Mirror – It’s time for the conversation around inclusion and diversity to take a human-centric approach. Storytelling, one of the most universal human experiences, gives us a rare chance to look through new lenses. Read more in hbr.org.
Leaders Can Be Courageous Trailblazers
Trailblazers must have the courage to stand up for what is right to ensure leadership accountability and support and foster an inclusive workplace. To move forward effectively, inclusive leaders have multiple paths for consideration.
Dealing With Uncertainty – choose to ride the turbulent waves of uncertainty, understanding that workplace dynamics are still occurring despite challenges. Committing to Long-Term Impact – take thoughtful, positive actions towards creating more inclusion, knowing seeds are necessary for longer-term impact. Read The Inclusive Leadership Journey Required Much Courage on Forbes.com.
“Serious” Leaders Need Self-Care, Too
Despite the well-known benefits, many leaders remain resistant to the whole idea of self-care, often seen as a sign of weakness, a feeling that they just don’t have time, or just generally rolling their eyes at the entire concept. Self-care begins with you. It comes in many shapes and sizes, but done consciously and consistently, it gives you the tools you need to become a better leader and a happier, healthier person.
This article from hbr.org offers several suggestions to help leaders see the benefits of self-care, as well as some concrete strategies to incorporate self-care practices into your daily routine. Read more
Discover the Power of Group Coaching
Are you ready to accelerate your leadership journey? Join our Ten-Step Group Coaching Programme ‘The Conscious Leader’.
Why Group Coaching?
- Embrace shared humanity while celebrating individuality.
- Engage with peers who will enrich, challenge, and stretch your perspective.
- Build the resilience, patience, and mutual regard needed for creating change in the world.
About the Facilitators
Jess Taylor and Razia Aziz own and lead the ea (founded in 2010). Between them they have decades of experience of consultancy, facilitation, coaching, mentoring, supervision and spiritual counselling in the leadership, inclusion and organisational development space. See their bios here.
Why Choose ‘The Conscious Leader’?
- Elevate Leadership Skills: Develop into a more effective and compassionate leader.
- Personal Growth: Gain deep insights and conquer personal challenges.
- Career Enhancement: Obtain Level 7 ILM accreditation for professional advancement.
- Valuable Networking: Connect with peers who share your leadership goals.
Expressions of interest and applications for the Conscious Leader are invited up to 7th December 2023. Get in touch, to learn more and secure your spot in this transformative programme.
The ea consultancy – Feature in Business Edge
The ea consultancy appear in the October/November 2023 issue of the Sussex Chamber of Commerce magazine, Business Edge. The article is part of their Women in Business issue and features co-directors Razia Aziz and Jess Taylor who are dedicated to developing conscious leadership skills in individuals and organisations.