March 08, 2019 / LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT LOVE
March 08, 2019
Why understanding the meaning of diversity and inclusion is an imperative for family, friendships, business and the world at large.
At the end of last summer, I invited my friend Michael to dinner as his wife was out of town. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and we had a lot to catch up on. My wife and thirteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, joined us and as we sat down to eat the two men did what most men do, we talked, a lot. We opined a lot and thought we were solving the world’s problems. It was a great dinner with amazing conversation. Or so I thought. After Michael left, my daughter asked me to sit back down. Then she proceeded to share how frustrated she was, how we had both spoken over her and my wife during dinner. She pointed out how we’d ignored them as we talked about the politics of the moment. We made her feel invisible and that her opinions didn’t count. I was stunned and apologized profusely. And as I listened intently, my wife shared how men speak past her in social situations, how they don’t really listen and how it has happened to her most of her life. My daughter said the same thing happens with male teachers, coaches and boys at school. My older daughter then joined the conversation and shared the same experiences. It happens to women all the time.
This was a rude awakening for me. I’d always thought of myself as being self-aware and considerate in both my personal and professional life. I was sure that I knew what being inclusive meant. But it took my youngest daughter to point out what I’d been unintentionally missing. As we talked about it in more detail, I realized that being inclusive was multi-dimensional and I, as a husband, father, leader and friend had an obligation to be more open, more inclusive and more supportive. I left the table committed to starting the same conversation at Bulldog. After sharing this story with the team and acknowledging I’ve unintentionally done the same at work, we formed a group to lead a long-term initiative to help everyone at Bulldog understand what diversity and inclusion means and to look at how we can be more open and inclusive as a team. For one, I now consciously try to create more space for others, in conversations, in meetings and I check my enthusiasm for the mic and try to pay much more attention to those I’m in conversation with. Especially with those less inclined to speak up.
If you’re a man in a position of influence or leadership today, take the time to reflect and understand the meaning of diversity and inclusion. In so doing, honestly look at how you’re showing up, look for the gaps and blind spots that you have and be open to change. Examine the behavioral changes you need to make and the actions you need to take, and open the door to meaningful positive change in other people’s lives in each of the places you have a leadership role. And while you’re at it, take the time to sincerely thank the women in your life for what they do and for how they’ve helped to shape you.
For the past 15 years, I’ve had the privilege of working with a group of immensely talented women at Bulldog Drummond who have given their all, brought their talents to the work we do and have made Bulldog the very special place it is. I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by you as colleagues. You often feel like human mirrors, honestly reflecting back what you hear and see in me, helping me to do what I do. Along with my amazing wife and two daughters, the women at Bulldog have helped and challenged me to be more open and self-aware, more considerate and to be open to change.
March is a special month because we get to celebrate women. On behalf of the men at Bulldog, I’d like to celebrate and thank each of you for all you do. Annie, Lisa, Megan, Erin, Cat, Erin, Katie, Colleen, Krystle, Tiffany, Brett, Emma, Amber and Erika, thank you for what you do for Bulldog every day. I respect each of you for your individual talents and for the time and energy that you invest in Bulldog. I appreciate and learn from your unique and different perspectives, your passion, patience and tenacity for the work that we do together as a team.
To the amazing women at Bulldog Drummond, you make us better together, every day.
Read more from Shawn.