On June 14, my husband and I attended the first Pride event in Brookings. We live in a small town (in a state that ranks towards the bottom of support for the LGBTQ+ community) and the number of people who came out was awesome. They had a panel discussion, which from our seats was hard to hear, but they included pronouns with their introductions. Identity is so important. And the respect that goes along with paying attention to who others want to be seen as is key to building the relationships that will help us be stronger HR professionals, stronger business leaders, stronger humans.
As Anne and I have started our podcast and started talking more about identity, I am finding myself challenged at how I have looked at the world. The different levels of privilege have been lost on me. I never realized the level of privilege that I viewed the world through. The past few months, we have been sharing how we identify and in our last episode, I realized I haven’t really been consistent in how I identify. And that’s definitely a place of privilege. I look at the world through the lens I grew up with, as we all do. Even though I have the view of Live and Let Live, I still have the lens someone who grew up white, Christian, in a small town with very little diversity. It’s hard to change the mindset that puts white male as the default. And I wanted to share 2 things that came to my attention during our podcast with Natalie Egan.
It can be hard to articulate (for me) why “you guys” is really not the all-inclusive phrase it has become. But I’ve tried to combat it in my own way. With my daughter’s Girl Scout troops, I’ve used ladies when trying to get their attention. But as Natalie pointed out, I’m making an assumption about the girls in the troop. Girl Scouts is all inclusive, though to be honest, not sure what we would do if someone who identified as male wanted to join. Natalie made me pause and think. Is there anything wrong with using “ladies”? Maybe, maybe not, but the best option is to talk to the troop about how they would like me to identify them. It should be their choice, not mine. [I’m trying to use y’all more. It’s a little more fun and shorter than “you guys”. Try it. It’s not just for Southerners.]
The other area of challenge for me came during the same conversation about identity. Earlier that day I was listening to Lovett or Leave It and the host Jon Lovett mentioned his identity as a “white, gay, Jew.” And my immediate thought was how great it would be if we all just started with identity, including white males. As Anne has said often in our podcast, we need to be aware of our lens and if we don’t identify it, we will continue to look through the default lens of “white, straight male.” Yet, I stumbled over my words during the podcast and I thought it would be great if we didn’t have to use the labels. Now that part is true. Because the labels have held us back. And again, it’s about allowing others to share how they want to be seen. That is exactly what this is about. We can no longer be “color-blind” or ignore the differences between us. The differences need to be celebrated!
As the podcast host, it would have been easy for me to edit out the parts I got wrong. We could have made it nice and smooth and just let Natalie talk. But I want to be honest about the struggles. I want you all to know it’s possible to change your own lens. It just takes time. I hope you will listen to our podcast with Natalie and learn a little something as well!