At GMLF we began holding up a mirror on ourselves last fall as we were transitioning to a new Executive Director and welcoming new members to our Board of Directors. We took a deep dive scrutinizing our activities to ensure that we were supporting the transformative power of diversity and inclusion.

Inclusion is an organizational practice and goal stemming from the sociological notion of inclusiveness which is the political action and personal effort but at the same time the presence of inclusion practices in which different groups or individuals having different backgrounds like origin, age, race and ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation and identity and other are culturally and socially accepted and welcomed, equally treated, etc. Some describe a common definition of an inclusive value system where they say, “Inclusion is a sense of belonging: feeling respected, valued for who you are; feeling a level of supportive energy and commitment from others so than you can do your best work.” Inclusion is a shift in organizational culture. The process of inclusion engages each individual and makes people feeling valued essential to the success of the organization. Individuals function at full capacity, feel more valued, and included in the organization’s mission. This culture shift creates higher performing organizations where motivation and morale soar.

At GMLF we want to ensure that we address all of our participants’ needs and expectations to feel safe and/or brave enough to speak openly and honestly and help us all make more space for each other. It is for this reason that we added implicit bias training to our session components to be interwoven throughout each touchstone. During our recent session we added time to the agenda for a discussion about the national reawakening of systemic racism that plaques our communities. We discussed how black and brown Americans have been denied opportunities – from slavery to the Homestead Act to Jim Crow laws to federally mandated segregation that affects housing prices today. The increased scrutiny on policing has uncovered a growing list of cases where procedural changes might prevent problems. We tried to provide a safe space for professional women to talk about their feelings, their actions, their fears, and their desires for the future.

Confronting the reality of inequality and becoming involved in making necessary changes to the system are what will save our country. We welcome all GMLF alumnae to participate in these efforts.

As you fight for change, remember that we are all at different starting places. Some of us have been fighting for years, some of us are new to this. That doesn’t mean we don’t all want the same outcome; it just means that some of us have more to learn.  Let’s be helpful. Let’s educate each other and let’s come together as we work together. Even when freedom comes late, it is always welcome.