By Toni Halleen |
Your Path To Creative Alternatives in Diversity and Inclusion
According to Gloria Steinem, the circle is the oldest form of government. When women sit in a circle, we are reminded of our power. We see and support one another, we are all simultaneously both leaders and followers, and our strength is palpable.
Last month I spoke to a group of three hundred women attorneys at the Minnesota Women Lawyers Annual Conference on Women in the Law. What a thrilling energy there was in the room, as we celebrated this year’s theme, “The Big Tent.”
I provided the closing keynote address, using principles of improv comedy to “Say Yes to Diversity.” Late on a Friday, the women (and a few men) rallied around the invitation to embrace one another, our differences, and our connections.
Participants in the large gathering room came from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, and political beliefs. We practiced in different areas of law, in different cities, in workplaces of all shapes and sizes. We were many different ages with a host of varying experiences. And yet, we could all practice keeping an open mind to new ideas and making room for new approaches.
Improv teaches us to say “yes,” and here are some practical ways to “say yes” (figuratively):
- What would that be like?
- Say more… Keep talking
- How can I help with that?
- Let’s explore that…
- How might we make that work?
The phrases listed above are used not only in improv, but also in Creative Problem Solving to keep the conversation going and avoid shutting down ideas before they have a chance to grow.
Similarly, when we encounter differences, we may have an instinct to run away or reject the person or idea that is different from us (or different from what we were expecting). Our fast instinct to say “no” may limit our exposure to novel solutions and may exclude those who are different. Instead of running away or saying “no,” try saying “yes” in the ways listed above. You may find that when you “say yes,” you welcome diverse others into the circle, and increase the palpable power of the Big Tent.
Toni Halleen is the co-founder and COO of the law firm of Schaefer Halleen. The firm is committed to instilling strong values of diversity and inclusion into every facet of the firm. Toni spent many years on the defense side of employment law, and today serves as an advocate for employees experiencing discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace. Interested in continuing the conversation? Contact us today!