We all want to believe we are inclusive, but the reality is that our beliefs and perspectives can be limited by the borders of our own countries.
When I hosted my very first international conference, my goal was to build and connect women from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions. It was a simple mission of giving women a wider network to work with, learn from, and grow with.
Although I was raised with a multicultural background, this forum was also an opportunity for me to learn first-hand on how I could bring light into the reality women face globally.
What does this have to do with Inclusion?
Part of being an inclusive leader is to increase your self-awareness by learning to listen to different communities of people. Especially to communities that you are less familiar with.
Now more than ever, we all need to intentionally connect with people outside of our circle authentically, without judgement and with the will to challenge our own biases.
This year our virtual forum had an even wider reach and because of technology our agenda became even more inclusive; including speakers and attendees from over 130+ countries. What was surprising is that, including our company partners, 98% of attendees responded to a poll saying this was their first time attending a global gathering.
How can we grow Inclusive leaders?
1. Cultural Intelligence: through our global forum we have seen not only our ambassadors, but employees engage in meaningful ways where a connection becomes a friendship and a true understanding of everyone’s cultures. This partnership can help women build a network where anything is possible, and collaborations happen naturally. In a world where things are changing rapidly, introducing your team and community into spaces where the stories are shared universally can help shed light into everyone’s reality and journey.
2. Visible Commitment: this year after our forum we embarked our community to partake in a 6-week mastermind. The intention was for every member to have visible commitment towards what they were going to work on. Having visible commitment creates accountability for everyone. In our case, the accountability we built was for our ambassadors to continue to expand and create projects aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
3. Awareness of bias: researchers point out that if you have a brain, you are biased. What a better way to challenge your bias than by engaging in spaces where you can meet people from diverse backgrounds. For me personally, my second forum in 2016 where our organization gained ambassadors from 15+ countries, I truly understood how different my world was and how much more responsible I felt to do the work. Meeting people from around the world will also give you insight into the reality of their economy, situation, and cultures. This you can not learn just by reading or watching TV, this will be your own journey to challenge not only your bias but stereotypes.
As a Mexican American, there is nothing that brings me more joy than knowing that through my work I get to create more inclusive leaders. When I first moved to the US, I experienced many moments of racism and stereotyping towards my own culture. There were many situations where people would ask me comments that at the time seemed ignorant, but now I know that it is our responsibility to invite them into our world to challenge their bias. Now it’s not the time to cancel people, but to invite them into a world they are unfamiliar with. For the remainder of the year our goal continues to be the same, to introduce more people into a global network that will increase their cultural intelligence, create spaces where our members can make visible commitment and challenge people’s biases through stories and friendships.