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A Hard Look in the Mirror

The need for embracing diversity and inclusion

The pandemic has cloistered many of us in our home offices for months now, restricting the once abundant opportunities we had to casually engage with each other over a cup of coffee or a meal. For some of us, though, it has gifted time for reflection as we personally confront a more visible and never ending stream of racism and social injustice.

Almost daily I read about or sign into webinars focused on best practices of boards and executives who have embraced or are determined to embrace diversity and inclusion throughout their enterprises. Their focus doesn’t seem like the intellectual exercise it perhaps once was but hopefully instead, like a final awakening. Two prevalent themes get my attention; written policies serve only as optics and, this time around, responsibility cannot be delegated. As directors and executives, we own this.

I began to look in the mirror. My childhood neighborhood was safe; we played ball in the street, never locked our doors and went inside when the street lamps came on. Around the age of twelve, I was talking with a kid down the street about the wrestling matches we watched on our black-and-white TVs. We decided to put each other in a bear hug to see who was strongest. He started and squeezed me as hard as he could for as long as he could; nothing. My turn…within a minute or so his body went limp. I thought he was faking and let go. He fell face down onto the pavement and I watched a tooth fly off to the side. His body began to convulse; he came to, stood up crying and ran home.

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