Illusion of Inclusion…White Privilege Series



I love this title “illusion of inclusion,” which resonates with everyone right where they believe they are. Regardless of what ethnicity you are, or what group you identify with, and what gender you are…inclusion is personal.


Based on how engaged, celebrated, respected, trusted and authentic you feel in your environment determines your belief about inclusion.

The purpose of this series is to share insights on what many people believe are privileges provided to one particular group and not others. Actually, companies are at different levels of creating cultures that are truly inclusive of everyone. Leaders are trying to understand what inclusive leadership looks and feels like. How do courage, confidence, and character show up for people of color and women so that they are not labeled but celebrated? It is a very fine line balancing authenticity and inclusion in the workplace. So what do you do?

We know that your game face must stay on all of the time when working with others in large organizations. This is one of the biggest reasons people are confused; they cannot truly be themselves in their workplaces.

Do you really believe that non-Hispanic White males do not feel excluded? Of course they do. Remember, when we talk about white privilege we are referencing the larger group, not the individual. So let’s not be trite and petty and play the blame game; instead, let’s be open and honest and find ways to share and educate one another.

Inclusion starts with the individual, with the CEO, with the manager, with the team, with the department, with the division, with the business unit. It ends with the company. Like diversity, inclusion is a journey and a part of all of societal norms.

When we think about our environments – particularly companies that are predominantly nonHispanic white – the fact is that people are comfortable with others that look and feel like themselves. Know that the work to be done is getting beyond individual fears and the unknown of change and facing those discomforts that perpetuate progress.

DMBA’s Inclusive Leadership Index has captured some interesting data as it relates to inclusion and engagement. First of all, it is important to understand what companies are doing to increase awareness and engagement.

o 96 percent of companies have activities that include everyone to learn about differences in other cultures;
o 63 percent of companies offer cultural competency training; this also includes mutlinationals offering this training from a global perspective to ensure employees are sensitive to different cultures;
o 74 percent of companies measure bias in the workplace using surveys as an indicator; however only 26 percent of companies offer training on bias. This training is becoming increasingly popular as companies recognize how behavior impacts productivity.
o Companies utilize various types of activities to engage nonHispanic white males so they feel included. Some of those activities are executive councils, sponsors, coaches, and fireside town hall meetings with employees. Most of these activities chat and occur within smaller groups.
o 67 percent of companies believe that nonHispanic white males are engaged in the normal process of diversity and inclusion work.

What am I really saying here? White privilege is real, but it shows up very differently for every person and every company. The challenge is knowing that it exists and recognize it as real, then determine how to safely talk about it so more women and people of color are invited to the table and nonHispanic white males are more than allies – they become drivers.