Organizations across the country, from the non-profit sphere to the corporate sector, are standing at the gates of a tremendous opportunity to create new processes and policies that intentionally set a tone of inclusion and that truly value all voices and perspectives of their staff.
Fundamental organizational culture change cannot be engineered through top-down edicts, or generalized policies, nor designed and imposed on staff by outside experts. Diversity Training and Implicit Bias Workshops are not effective when offered as a multiple choice, hour-long seminar to be tossed at individuals in order to check a box. Individual employees must be given the opportunity to engage topics and conversations deeply, and at their own pace, in ways that are relevant to their lived experience, cultural orientation, and personal communication styles. They must be invited into meaningful conversation, in which they feel their voices are respected and honesty is valued. This is especially true when challenging topics such as bias, racism, power differentials and conflict are involved.
Center for Council has worked with a wide variety of teams to strengthen internal culture, helping to develop concrete skills and practices to foster greater collaboration, build community, navigate power, privilege and diversity issues and effectively manage conflict. The council practice provides the container for sincere reflection as well as the space to listen to the lived experiences of others. The practice offers tools for individuals to have honest conversations that lay the foundation for genuine understanding. Council values every voice, reinforces respectful communication, builds positive relationships between participants, and neutralizes hierarchical dynamics and conflict. It is a resource for increasing compassion and engagement and recognizing our essential human interconnectedness. Center for Council's programs deliver customized, on-the-ground, community-building solutions; its evidence-based programs have been shown to increase mindfulness and engagement, enable participants to connect with others in new ways, create safe and supportive environments for self-expression without fear of judgment, and help with the development of effective communication skills and resilience.
The importance of meaningful connection and mutual understanding is ever present, and the current moment in society underscores the need to listen beneath opinions and rhetoric to people’s lived experiences involving identity, inclusion, and bias. This is exactly what the council practice offers: the opportunity to listen to personal experiences, and share one's own story. Authentic action that affects change must come from a foundation of honest self-reflection, on an individual and on a group level. In order to look forward with clarity and integrity, we must look inward to discover new possibilities.
Learn more about Center for Council’s professional staff trainings here.