Tag Archives: diversity and inclusion speaker

CEOs: Avoid Elephants on Parade

Avoid Elephants on Parade I spent the majority of my career in the people business: helping executives to grow, to manage change, or to manage high stakes conflict. A commonly used phrase was “the elephant in the room.” Either someone was brave enough to acknowledge there was an “elephant” in the room or some people tried not to see the “elephant” at all. The “elephant” was the uncomfortable, the issue that, if not addressed skillfully, could blow up around the board table or in the conference room.

My job as a skilled facilitator who was often called upon to not only support executives and managers to see the “elephant” but to also help them smell it, touch it, name it, and reframe it. In essence, it was to ease executives from an avoidance perspective to having the skills and courage to do something about “the elephant.” Many times, the “elephant” highlighted an area of diversity. Diversity of thought, perspective, experience, and/or values. When layered with diversity of race, gender, role, status, sexual orientation and, sometimes, location–since a teleworking culture was evolving–things could get complicated.

In today’s workplace, “elephants” are parading everywhere we turn. We are bumping up against divides that require leadership at the highest level, the CEO, to be aware of the cultural shifts, more cognizant of how people are showing up to work. A recent Harvard Business Review survey (https://hbr.org/2017/10/a-survey-of-how-1000-ceos-spend-their-day-reveals-what-makes-leaders-successful) of 1000 CEOs revealed that a significant part of their day is spent alone or with one other person. This number varies by industry but the point is this: the wise CEO may want to really know the temperature of employee morale to prevent a virus of negativity permeating the organization. Elephants are big. To control them from taking up too much space and sucking all of the air out of the workplace, the CEO may need to become the organizational doctor and check on the well-being of employees.

The best parade for elephants is in the circus.

Diversity and Inclusion: The Village of Dangling Threads

Diversity & Inclusion: The Village of Dangling Threads
By Tamara Smiley Hamilton

Some call it the law of attraction. Some call it faith. Some call it hope. Whatever we call It, somewhere there has to be the belief that each of us can make this a better world. The time for fear has run its course. The waiting that someone else will step up is gone. We are living in such fragile times that each of us needs to attract the energy to reach across lines of differences and finally see the “other.” Why? Some might actually ask that question. When they do, the rest of us need to embrace the energy that launches the question, because at least there is an opportunity for engagement. There is an opportunity to sew up a gaping rip.

All of us embrace or reject differences in our own way and style. Some of us give benign smiles but don’t speak. Others lend a helping hand but won’t expose a heart. Some make noble speeches and proclaim: “My best friend is Black.” Or, announce I have the Koran on my bookshelf of sacred books. We wear various badges of honor to keep us from being like them. But who are they? Who are the ones dividing us from the vision of peace and harmony some of us expected to see in our lifetime, especially if you saw the fires despair that defined the sixties, and all that came before. Tulsa in 1921. Now Charlotte and Charlottesville, Berkeley and Washington State sound like remixes of nightmares we had shoved under the bed.

We are in a season where to call is not for arms, but for hearts.

Hearts open us up to hear each other’s stories. Hearts open us up to embrace a new food that comes with a grandma story. Hearts help us see mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, friends and families that make up the human village. There is an African proverb that says: “It takes a village to raise a child.” I offer that it will take a village to save the values, the hopes, and the dreams we so delicately place in our children for safekeeping.

What can each of us do now?

We see the seams unraveling.

We feel the smoldering conflict of values.

We see the threads dangling at the hemline of our nation.

Does anyone have a needle and thread???

Are we standing by letting the cords rip?

 

It’s not too late to consider: What is one small step to reach across lines of difference so that we can sing at least one song in harmony? Perhaps the song has a simple refrain: “I SEE you and you matter to me.”

Tamara S. Hamilton is an experienced and sought-after speaker on diversity and inclusion whose wise words lift the spirit, hug what hurts, and models hope and resilience. She is an eloquent and heart-centered communicator. Contact Tamara for consultations, speaking at your event, group facilitation or coaching.

Stay inspired with Tamara’s 7 Steps to Building Bridges.

Bridging Troubled Waters Through Diversity and Inclusion

Bridging troubled waters diversity and inclusion speaker tamara hamilton

As a professional speaker on diversity and inclusion I am moved to speak.

America needs a group hug right about now. Corporate and universal diversity and inclusion can not be reduced to lip service. With a splintered America becoming a part of a new reality, someone has to step up and offer solutions for bridging troubled waters. I am stepping up and equipped to serve our nation to deal with some tough stuff. Seeing today’s youth with fire in their bellies jolts me back to six hot August nights in 1965 when I was an eyewitness to the Watts Rebellion.

As a thirteen-year-old girl, I saw Watts burn as I stood in my backyard feeling unsafe. As I watch the news this week, I am jolted back to a feeling of fear and hopelessness that engulfed my friends and me. I wondered what would happen to my home, to my life, as embers from the fire floated in front of my face. We lived on 89th and Compton Avenue, and the downtown blocks of Watts on 103rd Street, were lit up like fireworks. Orange, red and yellow flames streaked across the night sky.

The events of 1965 shaped my future.

Those events led me to study race relations and to major in Black Studies at Scripps College. I dove so deep that I spent a semester of my senior year with the Experiment in International Living, studying and working in Ghana. I wanted an international perspective. I found that in a masters’ program in African Studies at Howard University. Little did I know I was being equipped for today.

Over years I facilitated work groups that grappled with race and gender issues. Sensitivity workshops helped educators and students to reach each other’s’ hearts and minds across racial and cultural fault lines. Studying communications management at the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California, helped me to develop the language and frameworks for purposeful dialogue.

My unique capacity to engage opposing forces led to the appointment of the Executive Counsel for Leadership and Career Development at the National Education Association. Designing and implementing employee morale initiatives became the focal point of my work.

The fires of Watts still burned inside of me. I am now channeling this burning desire to help figure out this race thing, the what and why, the impact.

Today, I know my purpose in life. I am equipped for the times we are experiencing today.

As a professional speaker and executive coach, I have fire in my belly to help people find their path across the deepening racial divide, especially our students. Today, I help organizations to address issues of diversity and inclusion as well as bullying, and macroaggression, which many see as the new face of racism. I try to help workplaces be safe places by facilitating tough conversations, to discuss the undiscussables. Perhaps the fires came to me early in life so that I would be unafraid to help build a bridge over turbulent waters, to intervene into tough situations, to help those in conflict see “the other.”

We are now swimming in new waters that will call on us to find those islands of grace, to reach across the pond. The key is for us not to drown but to figure out how to wade to safer ground. As I watch Latino, Asian, White, Black, and Native American middle schoolers march through the streets of San Francisco seeking “help,” the fires are burning now in their souls. They will need to swim harder and faster to safer shore.

I want to be lifeguard for them, workplaces, and for our future. Please reach out to me if I can assist your organization, group, corporation, or school to emerge through the often murky waters of diversity and inclusion.