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Article

Be a Better Champion for Women, LGBT and People of Color (Even if You Are a Woman)

By Nicki Gilmour, Executive Coach and Organizational Psychologist

In Ireland, we have an expression that says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

Although this probably comes from some ancient religious threat, it reminds me of diversity and the work that needs to be done by all people.

Most people have good intentions but without action, the status quo prevails. It is not a well kept secret that historical behaviors, norms and laws have not exactly favored women, people of color or LGBT people, so inaction is a form of collusion.

The quote from Edmund Burke, “ The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” is a good one for equality. If we do nothing, while other people are endorsing racism, messaging misogyny as a norm and creating homophobic laws as is happening right now in the USA, it is going to be a race to the bottom.

Of course, if you feel that you are not a “bad person” as most of us do, that doesn’t let us off the hook with what we do and don’t do for equality in our circles. This work starts with real awareness of how there are many versions of life out there and that one’s subjective lens is just that. Subconsciously the brain assigns value to everything. A better than and worse than frame from tea and coffee to straight and gay “lifestyles” (Yachting is a lifestyle, not being LGBT.)

Social scientists and neuroscientists finally agree that unless you override your brain, biases will kick in based on what assumptions were built from messaging over time. Kegan and Lahey do a great job talking about this in their book ‘Immunity to Change’, pointing out that the socialized mind can only work with subjective truths while the goal of seeing through your lens while also examining your lens will free you. To see the glass as not half empty or half full will take you to a place of knowing it is just a glass while understanding others are limited to the binary is very valuable.

So, if you want to be a good ally or champion to others even if you are a woman, LGBT or a person of color, start with a hard look at your thoughts, your paradigms and how this comes out of your mouth as words. Your actions have a chance of changing if you know how they are formed because behaviors come from beliefs. Your audio and your visuals need to match or simply put, people won’t know whether you are proactive in making progress happen or if you are a fan of status quo, or worse and we all know what worse looks like as 2018 is the year of explicit examples.