Tips to Create a Classroom or Workplace of Equity, Inclusion and Empathy
Cultivate cultural humility and responsiveness. When it comes to microaggressions, build understanding of how systemic oppression impacts one’s lived experience, especially people from historically marginalized populations. Something that seems innocuous may have a real impact. Avoid assumptions.
Microinclusions: subtle ways in which you can create space to include people so that they feel welcomed and a sense of belonging. Honor individual experience and expertise. Welcome differences – We are great because of our multiple identities, not despite them.
Become aware of your own biases. Colorblindness is not helpful, and has been shown to to increase implicit bias. Admitting that we are all subject to bias creates a safer space to examine and take steps to combat it.
Recognize that you do not know everything about every culture in your personal or professional life. Use your anxiety of not knowing as an opportunity to expand your equity lens and check your assumptions.
Mindfulness and loving kindness in practice involves paying attention in a nonjudgmental way to one’s breath and other sensations; and consciously sending out compassionate thoughts toward others.
Ask inclusive questions (i.e., how do you identify? What are your pronouns?). Be aware of environmental cues: is your space inviting? How does it appeal to the senses?
Increase empathy. Learn about the interests and experiences of your colleagues, employees and students. Taking the perspective of another increases one’s ability to not fall prey to stereotypical views of that person.
This is not a sprint, but a marathon. Commit to lifelong learning and critical self-reflection. Recognize and challenge imbalances of power. Institutions must hold responsibility for a culture of empathy and equity, including C-level leadership.
Create an intercultural development plan. Expand your network. Develop authentic cross-group associations and friendships. Read. Take advantage of equity-minded professional development (e.g., BaCE). Diversify your social media.
Show up to and engage in diversity-related events and meetings at your workplace and/or in the community. These present an opportunity to stay connected to your own self-work and self-reflection. Educate yourself.
Bias is fixable. Build your own comfort engaging topics that activate discomfort so that you continue to grow and feel more capable facilitating such discussions personally and professionally.
Share your lived experiences and your continued work as an advocate. Acknowledge intersectionality of systemic oppression and social identities. Stand with and advocate for marginalized colleagues and communities.