Doug Robertson

Testimonial: Creating the Environment for Courageous Inclusion

I enrolled in Creating the Environment for Courageous Inclusion as part of my Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership. I had no knowledge of the subject when I began, but now I understand why it is part of the certificate program, both from a personal and an HR standpoint. 

Regarding the former, everyone comes to the program with their own view of the world. We all have different opinions, and can be right and wrong at the same time. There was a lot of listening over the six sessions, and it was interesting to hear how others think and how they see things. 

In terms of HR, our CEO created an initiative this year around diversity and inclusion. We have 16,000 employees around the world, and look at the topic from a global standpoint because these issues are in every country. If we value the diversity of our people and what they are contributing, it makes the company stronger. 

As a manager, you have to recognize that you have unconscious biases. Even if you think you are “walking the walk,” are you truly valuing the diversity of opinions, skills, and experiences of people? You may be shutting them out because you are unaware of your blind spots. The program helps you to understand how others see you, and to become a better listener.

The program motivated me to “think outside the box,” and to work to make changes to be more inclusive and keep other people’s point of view in mind. I have conversations with men and women in India, China, and Europe, and I understand better how important it is to slow down and think about what I am saying. This is especially true in a meeting where you want people to feel engaged and connected, and that their contribution is valued. As a leader, your language can bring them in or turn them off. You have to have that awareness.

The program gives you a safe place to learn and practice skills, get feedback, and make improvements before you take them back and apply them in the real world. You can read a lot of books and papers on the subject, but you don’t internalize these skills until you practice with other humans. Professor Outing had us practice with problem sets and scenarios that help you quickly realize how much you didn’t understand from the other person’s point of view. The exercises force you to listen—something that can be hard to do when business is moving so fast. 

Overall, I thought the program was excellent and timely. It’s a very relevant topic in the US and around the world, so it’s important to get up to speed on the talking points so you can be part of the conversation, and to better understand how you can better contribute to diversity, equality, and inclusion.