A few months ago, I came across a TED Talk given by Verna Myers. it was titled “How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them.” This talk spoke to me. In our Human Resource Management course, Dr. Leisha DeHart-Davis focused much of our material on diversity. We talked frequently about the Implicit Association Test, which measures an individual’s unconscious biases. I was, quite frankly, terrified to take the test. I consider myself to be an open-minded and inclusive person, so I didn’t like the idea of learning what my default mindset was. But I took the plunge. My results were the same as 70% of Caucasians and 50% of African-Americans in the United States… I strongly preferred white men over any other race or gender.
My initial reaction was along these lines: “Excuse me? It must be wrong. I’m passionate about empowering girls and young women to take on leadership roles! I’m going to be working on an access & inclusion initiative this summer!” When I came across this TED Talk, I began to understand that knowing your biases is the first step in combating them. Having biases doesn’t make you a bad person. Knowing them, though, means your mind is primed to make a change.
Verna outlines three steps to creating a more inclusive community:
- Stop denying it. Everyone is biased. Force yourself to dissociate the associations.
- Move toward your discomfort. Do an inventory. Expand your personal and professional circles.
- If you see something, say something. Break the cycle. The next generation is watching our actions.
Girls on the Run is also working through Verna’s three steps on an organizational level. They have decided to acknowledge that there are some major barriers to ensuring that all girls have access to our programming and that, even once everyone has access, there are additional barriers to ensuring that it is actually inclusive. So, I would say that GOTR Triangle is in Step Two. My job this summer is to complete the inventory and take those first key steps toward creating a truly inclusive and diverse Girls on the Run community.
While we’re asking some hard questions, it can be easy to assign blame or get lost in how we’ve reached a point where our actions might not be fully living up to our intentions. The Girls on the Run value to “lead with an open heart and assume positive intent” provides the mental framework to be able to do this essential work without losing faith in those around us. It is so important to know that everyone in the office is backing me up and, no matter what, is also working to create a better organization.
The opinions expressed here are solely my opinions. Content published here is not read or approved by Girls on the Run® International and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Girls on the Run® International.