April 2024 Newsletter: Advancing Allyship: Tapping into Target Experiences

Advancing Allyship: Tapping into Target Experiences

How do we connect with more potential allies and equip them to not only enter but stay in the fight for DEI?

The anti-DEI movement is gaining steam and stoking the anxiety, fear, and anger of even self-proclaimed liberal White people, which further deters the very people in positions of power we need to sustain progress in our organizations. 

A key component of allyship is the ability to practice what Isabel Wilkerson refers to as “radical empathy,” which she describes as “putting in the work to educate oneself and to listen with a humble heart to understand another’s experience from their perspective, not as we imagine we would feel.” However, research shows that the more power people have (both organizationally and societally) the less empathetic they become. In fact, power actually erodes our brain’s ability to read others’ emotions and adapt behaviors to meet others’ needs.  This is the power paradox at play – the positionality that we need potential allies to leverage to help push for equity and inclusion is the very thing that causes these individuals to disengage from the work of allyship.

I want to offer a path forward. Help potential allies connect with their own memories of being the targets of exclusion, bullying, or harassment. If power erodes an individual’s  ability to empathize, tapping into memories of powerlessness can rebuild the potential for radical empathy.

A recent study found that White men who have experienced harassment at work are more likely to recognize systemic biases against women and racially/ethnically minoritized individuals. They are also more likely to challenge the notion of meritocracy, and more willing to report incidents of bias when they witness it at work. Quite simply, it’s just  easier to empathize when one can relate to the other’s experience.

I have seen this firsthand in my own work with White men. A few years ago I was asked to facilitate a training for a cybersecurity firm focused on creating an inclusive workplace for transgender employees. One of the team members in the firm was about to return to work after gender affirmation surgery. The team was all White males from a predominantly Christian region of the U.S. To be honest, I harbored a lot of preconceived notions about how these men would respond to my workshop. During the session, I invited the team members to share their questions and concerns honestly. Some responded in ways that I had anticipated, expressing concern about which bathroom the team member would use and feeling uncomfortable around this colleague now who was dressing like a “chick.” Then one of the team members spoke up,  “Hold up.  I remember being that kid in school who kids picked on and teased for being different. We’re all IT nerds here. We know what it’s like to be bullied. Let’s remember what it was like to be excluded and promise to treat each other with dignity.” 

The work of allyship requires people to override the potential loss of empathy that comes with positionality, to be willing to sit in discomfort and even risk compromising their social power and status.  By guiding them to reconnect with their own experiences of the pain of being targeted, we are more likely to help them stay motivated to embrace the choice of allyship. 

Maria Morukian
Maria Morukian
Founder and President

MSM Global Updates

1. Exciting News! “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Trainers” is now available in audio format thanks to ATD and is accessible through major audiobook platforms like Audible, Apple, Google, and Spotify. We’re thrilled to offer this essential resource to a broader audience.

This transformative book by Maria Morukian delves into the critical realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training, highlighting its foundational importance within organizations. Maria explores how effective DEI training fosters courageous conversations, acknowledging systemic inequities and addressing vulnerabilities across various aspects of individuals’ lives. Offering a clear roadmap for progress, the audiobook guides DEI trainers through the historical context, organizational assessment, design, and delivery of DEI initiatives. Moreover, it provides strategies for embedding DEI principles and promoting sustainability through collaborative practices and dialogues. Each chapter includes reflection questions and worksheets to facilitate deeper engagement.

Our team loves audio books and regularly listens to various books in this format. If you’ve been waiting for another reason to read this book, here is your sign!

🔊 Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Diversity-Equity-and-Inclusion-for-Trainers-Audiobook/B0CT9YKR67?source_code=AUDORWS0718179KY7
🔊 Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/audiobook/diversity-equity-and-inclusion-for-trainers/id1727518359
🔊 Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/Maria_Morukian_Diversity_Equity_and_Inclusion_for?id=AQAAAECSmhramM&hl=en_US&gl=US
🔊 Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3RZjokw4bXFQdOoENmWw2d

2. Maria Morukian will be speaking at the Southeastern Diversity Leadership Conference April 4-5 in Biloxi, MS. This conference brings together DEI leaders and practitioners from across the region to learn and share promising practices across industries. Maria will be speaking on strategies to overcome resistance and pushback to DEI initiatives.

Culture Stew

March 13th Episode: Dr. Ayanna Brown 

Join us on Culture Stew as we discuss Culturally Responsive Teaching and Equity in Education with Dr. Ayanna F. Brown. Explore the evolution of CRT, challenges facing DEI work, and strategies for creating lasting change.

Listen now! – Equity in Education: Navigating Challenges and Building Lasting Change with Dr. Ayanna F. Brown – MSM Global Consulting

March 27th Episode: Inclusive Insights: A Conversation with Dr. Carol Parker Walsh

With her extensive experience and expertise, Dr. Carol Parker Walsh shares invaluable insights on fostering inclusive workplace cultures, overcoming resistance to DEI initiatives, and the power of coaching for professional growth. Don’t miss this enriching conversation that goes beyond building time for professional growth and also encourages personal care!

Tune in now on all major podcast platforms and on the MSM Global Consulting website: https://msmglobalconsulting.com/inclusive-insights-a-conversation-with-dr-carol-parker-walsh/

MSM Global Gallery 

  • National Black Women’s Labor Day, April 5
    The Basil and Becky Educational Foundation (BBEEF) is hosting the Inaugural Celebration of National Black Women’s Labor Day and Screening of “Invisible Warriors – African American Women in World War II.”  The event is virtual and will take place on April 5, 2024, at 8:00 PM (EDT). This exclusive evening promises to be both inspiring and empowering, delving into the untold stories of extraordinary Black women who played pivotal roles during World War II. Featuring the premiere screening of “Invisible Warriors,” this event pays tribute to the resilience and strength of the 600,000 African American “Rosie the Riveters” and marks the launch of the first National Black Women’s Labor Day. RSVP now to secure your spot to honor the remarkable achievements of Black women past, present, and future. https://invisiblewarriorsfilm.com/april5/
  • Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, April 24
    April 24 marks the date Armenians around the world commemorate the victims of the genocide of Armenians beginning in 1915, when the Ottoman government sanctioned the murder and mass displacement of over 1.5 million Armenians. The present government in Turkey continues to deny the genocide occurred. Armenians continue to face racism, persecution and displacement, most visibly with the recent takeover by Azerbaijan of the Armenian enclave, Nagorno-Karabakh . Members of the Armenian diaspora can be found in every culture around the world. To hear diverse voices representing the Armenian diaspora in the U.S., check out We Are All Armenian: Voices From the Diaspora, a collection of essays edited by Aram Mrjoian.

Content For Your Down Time

Here are some recommended videos, articles and books for your down time.

How To Be An Ally Beyond Social Media – Mashion 

In today’s digital age, social media activism often falls short of genuine allyship, reducing important issues to fleeting trends. Shanze Sadiq’s article on Mashion provides practical insights for those seeking to make a meaningful impact beyond online platforms. Genuine allyship entails amplifying marginalized voices, actively listening, challenging derogatory behavior, and recognizing one’s role in systemic oppression. It requires ongoing commitment to education, self-reflection, and action. By understanding personal biases and actively working to dismantle oppressive systems, allies can foster a more inclusive and equitable society. Join us on the journey towards authentic allyship—read the full article on Mashion and challenge yourself to move beyond social media allyship. 


8 Characters in TV and Film that are Allyship Goals

This listicle shines a spotlight on impactful portrayals of allyship in movies and television, particularly within the LGBTQIA+ community, where characters go beyond familial bonds to create safe spaces and alleviate trauma. Characters like Mary from “Our Flag Means Death” and Anu from “My Brother…Nikhil” exemplify unwavering support and acceptance, while Guillermo’s familia in “What We Do in the Shadows” and Maggie from “The Skeleton Twins” demonstrate the importance of chosen family in navigating life’s challenges. These narratives not only celebrate allyship but also highlight the resilience and strength found in solidarity.

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