I pledge to not let materialistic things define me.
I pledge to find inner beauty and not let my instinct create a label or classification.
I pledge to seek to understand before being understood.
I am not perfect, and I am still learning to unlearn and open my mind to a new world of hope.
It’s not a switch I can turn off or on; it’s a conscious choice to change, to speak up.
As Madeleine Albright shared in a recent podcast interview, if you see something, don’t just say something. Do something.
I promise to not only try. As Mahatma Gandhi quoted, I will be the change I wish to see in the world.
I am encouraged to see that we can make change happen. I watched the class of 2020’s virtual graduation ceremony with the Obamas, Sundar Pichai, Alicia Keys and many talented souls. It was the graduation of a lifetime. Barack Obama shared the message to “do what is right”. I believe in this message. We need to show empathy, generosity and respect to all humans, irrespective of race, gender, ethnicity or disability.
Do what is right.
When I started to apply for jobs, I noticed how every job application has questions on gender, race, veteran status and disability. Previously, I would just answer, but now I ask, “Why do I need to answer?” How is it relevant?
We need to be mindful of the questions we ask candidates in a job application, and not only ask because we have always done so. Ask yourself why this is the way it is, and don’t be afraid to change things.
There is good research on diversity and inclusion (D&I) by Quinetta M. Roberson that states, “Diversity focuses on organizational demography, whereas inclusion focuses on the removal of obstacles to the full participation and contribution of employees in organizations.”
There are many companies investing in D&I at the workplace today — not just because of the benefits diversity and inclusion can bring to a workforce, but also because it’s the right thing to do. As stated by Built In, “Not only is inclusivity crucial for diversity efforts to succeed, but creating an inclusive culture will prove beneficial for employee engagement and productivity.”
When I started to learn more about D&I, I learned there is a third friend: an “E,” which stands for equity. According to one report (download required), “For every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired.” Equity is also a value companies need to place focus on.
The University of Michigan published a great explanation of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I): “Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party; equity means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist; inclusion means that everyone has the opportunity to dance”
We have to let our differences unite us. We tend to judge each other so quickly and so fast. Everyone is struggling with something, and at work, we need to respect each other’s boundaries.
I was lucky to experience a virtual event that focused on breaking down barriers. It opened my eyes to see that disability is a superpower. It’s not “disability.” It’s “differently abled.”
As leaders, we need to be more compassionate and practice empathetic listening. We need to focus on not only solving a problem but asking what help is needed. Listen and allow your employees to vent or ask for advice or brainstorm together.
Our perception is not their reality. What we see or hear may not be the truth, so take the time to learn and understand. It’s amazing when different perspectives come together to build a product or solution that is inclusive, that genuinely cares about the user at their level.
Stop comparing to others: Embrace being different.
We are in a global workplace today, so how do we overcome challenges and stop comparing ourselves to others? How can we, as leaders, help our team members to be their own true selves?
Personally, I’m fortunate to have a loving family, friends and co-workers to support me through my healing from stress and anxiety. I didn’t know much about my freedom of voice and had learned to suppress my own feelings and not hurt others’ feelings — but at the cost of my own emotional health.
Each of us is differently abled, and this is our superpower. We need to embrace this diversity among us. By focusing on inclusivity, I believe we can all come together and help each other in times of need to become a truly global community where we support each other and embrace each other for who we are.
Seek to understand before being understood.
As leaders, we have a long way to go to seek to understand before being understood. I learned about unconscious bias last year, but this is much deeper. It’s ingrained in all of us to want to be understood. However, it also falls on all of us to take the next step — to challenge the status quo and seek to understand.
Each of our team members has far more potential than what we can see as leaders. We can bring out the best in each other if we are truly ourselves and leave our biases at the door. Consider telling your team members, “You are better than enough, and I am grateful to have you in my life.” It’s amazing how much trust and credibility can open new possibilities.
Start your pledge today, as a leader, to be the change you want to see in the world.
Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.