5 Diversity & Inclusion takeaways from Meryl Streep Acceptance Speech
If you missed the speech that “Meryl Streep” accepted her Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, you watch it through the link.
I will not politicize the speech, and regardless of the platform used was the right one or the wrong one and regardless of which party you stand for, the speech brings us to the reality of "Diversity & Inclusion"; so for those Nay Sayers, and those that see Streep as a leftist or liberal or those that will respond what about whoever did this or that. This post is not for you; so move on and do not leave a hatred based comment (I welcome all comments that are for the sake of starting a dialogue no matter how different it is as long as it is done with respect)
On Sunday night, Meryl Streep summarized the principles of Diversity & Inclusion in 5 points. The most important word that highlighted her speech was “Respect”
In few minutes Streep described what the “Diversity and Inclusion guidelines" of every organization small or large should look like, and how should the executive leadership act or not, holding them accountable and having transparency in their dealings. Having counter balances to keep the accountability; was part of her speech as well.
These are my 5 takeaways I got from the speech
1- We live in a diverse world: Everywhere we look around us, diversity is a fact of life, either in our own neighborhood or even in our workplaces. The old definition of “Diversity” that it is about color, race and ethnicity alone should be put to rest and not being rehashed as it is done now.
The Definition of Diversity is the unique characteristics that make us human beings so it can be ethnicity, race and creed but it is also age (5 Generations at work right now), Disabilities (54+ Million people have been diagnosed with disabilities in the US and are the most underused segment in the workplace), gender (We are still looking for equality of pay for women, and looking to break the glass ceilings), Sexual Orientation, education, parental/ marital status, Military. Veteran status including the diversity of thoughts, so for those that are fighting against diversity, diversity includes everyone around you including your parents and children (Age and gender) as well.
Diversity is not a liberal thing and is not a fad but an actual part of our lives, the sooner we accept this and start implementing it in our lives and our workplaces the better results and revenues we will have for the organizations and communities. Diversity enriches lives, ignorance brings poverty of thoughts and pockets
Diversity is beyond census numbers, statistics, or minorities, it is not affirmative action or a box to fill on an HR application, it is not a compliance issue it is more of a sensitivity issue for those that have sensibility, decency and empathy.
2- It starts with the top leadership and trickles down: They say leaders lead by example, there is an old saying that “If the elder of the house is playing on his tambourine, the rest of the family can only dance to his rhythms”. So if a leader behaves in a certain way, then subliminally or subconsciously he is giving the consent to his followers to do the same good, bad or ugly.
People/ employees follow their leaders the responsibility lies on the leaders to influence and lead their followers they are accountable for their actions.
At the same time, the followers should have common sense and hold the leaders accountable for their actions even if they believe in them blindly – this is the only way to avoid think-tank, and to ensure the integrity of leadership.
It is a sad day when leaders actually misbehave and characterize it as acceptable, giving their followers the permission to overtly do the unacceptable things as hatred, un-acceptance of anything and everything that is different, ethnocentricity, and “my culture is better than your culture type of thing”. The result is a shattered and broken organization or even society. The question remains who will that serve?
3- Inclusion is the other side of diversity: It is important not to look at diversity alone as naming our differences ONLY can feel like exclusion rather than inclusion. Diversity without inclusion does not work period. They are two faces to a coin.
Inclusion means constructively call out our differences, rather than assuming similarities, it enables the full participation and contribution of everyone using all to their FULL potential no matter how different or diverse they are. Every uniqueness included adds to the woven of value of our society and workplace
4- Acceptance and respect: Both are the foundation of society and diversity. Whenever I do any of my diversity & Inclusion trainings I ask” Do you think respect is earned or given?”. Very few hands are raised to show that respect is “given” most think that respect is earned. So I play Devil’s advocate and ask them: “So how many tests or years do you accept that I put you through to earn my respect knowing that being different our perceptions are different so what you think can take 2 weeks can take me two years to give you my respect. Only then their facial expressions change”
I Accept the different opinions “Diversity of thoughts” I just want you to think that what I mean is: That respecting others is out of respecting myself teaching them how respect is carried.
Now acceptance: Many people fight acceptance with the debate that they do not have to accept anyone that is different from them, acceptance does not mean agreeing with others or believe what they believe in, but accepting that there are differences and it is perfectly fine to have differences
5- Silence is a form of violence: Meryl Streep used her status, her fame and the platform of the Golden Globe Awards to stand up for those that can’t do it for themselves. And yes there are a lot of other issues that should be put on the frontline but she chose to talk about this issue at that point in time.
We need to do whatever we believe is right not necessarily popular no matter what kind of criticism or ridicule we will be subjected to, no matter how small or big we are, young or old, black or white we need to stand up for people, for humanity in all its shapes, colors, ages, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities and forms. Silence means acceptance of what is going on; it is a form of violence
So where do we go from here, Meryl Streep has been already called names because she stood for what she believed in (Beside the point if I like her or not). These days I noticed that when someone takes a position the opposition goes on the attack responding "What about this issue and that issue that are more important, what about that other person did this or didn't do"
Every person will stand for what they believe, if you believe so strongly in something bring in your diversity and let us build together instead of tearing each other down, and look for attacks, we need to build and not destroy, we need to look in the good of people rather than looking for faults, we need to trust in humanity again.
What do you think? Let me hear what you have to say BUT with respect-
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Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
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