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How my Values are Operationalized in D&I



It’s only when you are clear about your values that you know if your choice of work and actions are aligned with them. Like many, I am reading Brené Brown’s recent book Dare to Lead. Out of curiosity yesterday morning, I spent some time working through her values exercise which is very similar to one I’ve used in the past. The exercise presents a long list of values and you need to pick the two that you resonate with most.


Brown says:

"The reason we roll our eyes when people start talking about values is that everyone talks a good values game but very few people actually practice one. It can be infuriating, and it’s not just individuals who fall short of the talk. In our experience, only 10 percent or organizations have operationalized their values into teachable and observable behaviors that are used to train their employees and hold them accountable."

Brown, 2018, p.190


To surface the intention of my work in the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) space, I performed the exercise and found (once again) that mine are, spirituality and courage. Today I’m going to share how these relate (as behaviors) to my vocation in the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) space.


From my worldview, spirituality connotes a sense of spirit and acknowledges the soul in every living being included in the cosmos. Through the cosmos, we are all connected. This interdependence is the source of our relatedness as humans and belonging to the same family. We belong to the same tribe and as such share many of the same paradoxes and concerns. Community grounds this value in an active way for me throughout my daily life as well as in my vocation. I am a member of the local Unitarian church in Montreal. I value this membership and name this community as my spiritual home. It reflects my family as well as it reflects my commitment valuing diversity. Just this week, I witnessed how Unitarians in Toronto created a circle of care around a synagogue so that they could worship in peace, without fear of attack. Slowly people from other communities joined them so that eventually the entire property was held in support. The shooting of worshipers in a synagogue in Pittsburgh still reverberates in the Jewish community, even here in Canada. Through these ever-widening circles we stand by each other as friends, as fellow citizens of the living cosmos, as individuals with the right to worship in our own authentic ways.


These acts, though, require courage – my second primary value. It takes courage to be there for each other, to speak up when your voice contradicts the surrounding voices, and it takes courage to be vulnerable which authenticity requires. In my D&I work, self-knowledge is one of the ways that I demonstrate the courage that is required to be an ally, to acknowledge the impact of the privilege I have as a white person. It takes courage to initiate these conversations because most white people don’t acknowledge that white is a race. To say, yes White is a race – just as much as being brown (or red, or yellow or black or… ) is. It’s true that I don’t believe in race simply because it is a made-up social construct. But I know that the power of the social consequences of race are irrefutable. For this truth, I find the courage to speak about being white in white circles even when it’s not popular.


Spirit and courage are interlocked in a myriad of ways as I find my way on this D&I journey. If you’d like support in naming your values, or even the values of your organizations and articulating how they support your D&I work, contact margot@margothovey.com.

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© 2019 by Margot Hovey, PhD