The quest to create a more diverse, inclusive and accepting organization is an ongoing process that requires attention and effort daily. DEI work is also the kind of thing that requires emotional stamina, the ability to hold space while others grow around us, and also the ability to compassionately, realistically challenge our own biases in order to truly create safe environments where people can thrive and give their best at work. But all too often, the people tasked with providing psychological safety for others struggle to separate themselves from the mission at hand, and can lead to burnout if DEI practitioners and leaders aren’t not careful.
In order to facilitate equity and inclusion work at a capacity that draws from our best selves, we have to remember to take pauses as well. Which is why we’ve decided here on Team Inclusion in Progress that as organizations in the northern hemisphere go into summer mode, that we will also center our own psychological safety – by taking a month off to rest, recharge our batteries, and reflect. On today’s episode, we’ll be sharing what reflections led to this decision, why we are centering our own well-being to come back stronger, and how we are eager to bring a renewed perspective and passion for the work when we return in August!
Welcome to the Inclusion in Progress podcast where we give you the ideas, actions and insights to help you build more equity at your workplace and in the world at large. I'm your host, Kay Fabella, international expert on diversity, equity and inclusion, a Filipina American living in Spain and your guide in navigating this DEI journey. Having worked with teams at companies such as Philips, the IMF, Red Hat, PepsiCo and more, I know firsthand that the work of inclusion only works when everyone has a seat at the table. Regardless of your personal entrypoint into this conversation: your race, ethnicity, gender, ability, age, sexual orientation, country of origin, or educational background, we all have a role to play in creating inclusion for all and it starts with us having conversations we need to create the change we wish to see. So let's dive into today's episode.
Hey again, friend, and welcome back to Inclusion in Progress! Now, as always, I want to start off today's episode with a huge thank you to those of you who wrote in after Episode 091 that came out earlier this month, if you're listening in real-time in June 2022, and that was all about whether or not we can have psychologically safe conversations around DEI, or diversity, equity and inclusion, that don't shame other people into doing the work, or for not doing enough work, and whatever version of shame that is showing up in that conversation. This is a topic that's obviously been on our minds for some time here at Team IIP. And I really appreciate the very thoughtful and nuanced responses that you've been sharing with us.
Now, this second season of the podcast on psychological safety has been a pretty interesting one for us to dive into. Because it's forced each of us on the team, as individuals and as a collective, to really understand a concept that, you know I can say honestly, we often write off as being so basic to diversity, equity, and inclusion work. And we've really had to step back and say, well… is it that basic? And is it really something that we're applying and putting into practice, not just for our own client partners, but also for ourselves, and for our team?
Now, the season has challenged us to go wider and deeper than in previous episodes of the podcast. So we have discussed everything about psychological safety from different angles: so how to create psych safety on remote teams, how to consider the importance of creating psychologically safe spaces for multi-faith workforces, which is an often overlooked conversation in DEI; how important it is to actually measure success in DEI so that practitioners both working internally in organizations as well as externally have a clearer way of measuring that progress that allows them to avoid burning out; as well as, obviously, the larger conversation that we dove into earlier this month about whether or not we can discuss DEI at work without shaming one another. And we've truly enjoyed putting together these episodes. And of course, as I said at the top, we appreciate all the kind words and appreciation for the work that, you know, goes into having these types of conversations.
So, knowing that this is a labor of love, could you please take just, you know, a couple seconds - maybe five minutes - to leave us a review for the podcast on iTunes or Spotify. Every bit really helps us reach those who would gain value from these episodes, especially open conversations like the one that we're going to have today about psychological safety for those who work in DEI. Because, oftentimes, the people who are leading this work, we find - including us - tend to have to leap to meet the needs and demands of so many other people… that they often need to find safe spaces themselves to have the conversations or have the sense that somebody understands them and has their back. And that's what we were hoping to do with this season. So any way that you can help us get these episodes in front of people so that they can benefit from it… We'll make sure to leave instructions for you to do so at the link in the show notes or on our website at inclusioninprogress.com. As you know, the show really is a labor of love. It's our way of trying to continue to create equitable access to conversations like this one for those who lead DEI work officially and unofficially, to lift up an industry of practitioners and aspiring practitioners who are taking on an enormous amount of responsibility to lead equity and inclusion for others. Sometimes it may be just listening to an “Aha!” moment in a conversation like the ones we have on this show that we hope can support someone in feeling a little bit less alone and a little bit more seen. The only way that they'll be able to discover a show like this is if they see words from listeners like you. So again, if you could please consider taking just five minutes to leave us a review for Inclusion in Progress and spread these insights to others who'd benefit from a more inclusive world, we will truly appreciate it. So thank you in advance!
So… diving into the elephant in the room. Now, as you can guess from the title, this episode is going to be a preface as to why we are taking a month off, both from the podcast Inclusion in Progress and from running the business Inclusion in Progress. And also, hopefully, by taking you behind-the-scenes, sharing the reasoning that led to both of those decisions, really, hopefully inspiring you to consider and take some of those into your own life and practice. Because resting and recharging is something that we've been wanting for ourselves as a team for quite some time and, speaking for myself, that I have especially wanted as a practitioner and as a CEO, because we realize how important having access to that downtime to create space for our own well-being to renourish itself and to really tap into our own sense of psychological safety for us to continue doing this work.
So, to that end, earlier this month we also held our first ever recharge week as a team - kind of a trial run, as it were. And the team spent quality time with ourselves, our loved ones… some of us have even had a couple of births - recent births on our team! So congratulations to the new parents! And we're also encouraged to be offscreen as much as possible. And, yes, that applied to yours truly, who is admittedly a quite connected millennial.
And for me, what I decided to do just so that I was forcibly removed from the screens, as it were, was fulfilling a bucket list goal of mine. I shared this on my LinkedIn profile, so you can check out the reflections there… But that bucket list goal was to walk the Camino de Santiago alone, and that's known as the St. James Walk or the St. James Way, here in Spain. And I specifically decided to walk the Portuguese Camino, the Portuguese Way. And for me to qualify for what's known as the Compostelana - it's a particular pilgrim certificate that certifies that you walked at least 100 kilometers - I chose to walk from Tui to Santiago de Compostela, which is where the Camino ends… which was 119 kilometers, or roughly 74 miles for those who measure in miles. And actually, in reality, it was probably a lot longer than that. But I did it for a week and I rolled up into Santiago de Compostela and laid my eyes on the cathedral at the end of a seven-day walk and it was just… it was so fulfilling and so needed in ways that I didn't even know that I could put into words.
And so I'm going to try and capture [this] because- those of you who have walked the Camino will know what I mean - but for those who have not, there are very few experiences still on this planet, I think, where you can disconnect that fully, right? I wish I could put into words how healing that trip was for me as a practitioner in diversity, equity, and inclusion for almost a decade now. [As] an immigrant who is far from both of her homes, who continues to live far from both of her home countries [the US and the Philippines]. How healing it was for me as a business owner who openly talks about living with depression and anxiety, who is also learning to navigate what life means now for all of us as we navigate this post-pandemic world. I wish I could put into words - fully - how humbling it was to walk in the same literal footsteps of other pilgrims who have paved the way, not just the day before on those paths, but thousands of years before me and all those who will come as a result of the ways that I walked. The awe… there's no other word for all that I felt surrounded by other pilgrims. And those who I knew were going through this journey with me.
I don't think I realized how much I missed that connection to nature around me living in the city of Madrid and all the little critters and books that I found along the way and everyone in between… it just felt like a nice way to really truly unplug for the first time in a while. And putting that into words is a struggle I'm currently navigating… there are so many downloads from having lived through that experience that I'm still unpacking a couple of weeks later… but as I continue to reflect on what the Camino has meant to me, I can say with absolute certainty that I was teetering on burnout before I left to walk the Camino. I know the team also felt the same way. We really have been through the wringer, especially over the last few months. So I'm glad that we were able to lead by example for those around us and listen to our own recommendations to pause, to keep making that progress. And so, because of that sort of taster of time off, we decided to carry that forward into what we're going to be talking about on the episode today.
So confession time: the last two years since DEI took center stage with the pandemic, and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter, and all of the other voices- the necessary voices - that have been folded into the conversation around equity and inclusion… it's been a lot. It's probably not a secret confession. I think I've mentioned some version of this on the podcast. And we've always been talking about it on the team now for quite some time. And so, you know, it's been a lot for the client partners that we support. It's been a lot for us as a team, myself included. We've heard from enough of our trusted colleagues and our friends about their mental health struggles and challenges, their feelings of languishing and aimlessness, their frustration, their unhealed hurts or whatever pain that they're carrying with them. And we can safely include ourselves in all of those categories and all of those feelings that we've listed just here. And so, as we often say on the podcast, the irony tends to be that for those who choose to engage in DEI work, who are tasked with supporting other people, we often support ourselves the least at the expense of our own peace, or our own selves. And of course, that applies to the team and myself, who I would definitely include in that description.
And so before it takes a heavier toll on us than it needs to, we are taking a much-needed step back to regroup and recharge and come back in fighting spirit. So it seems fitting that, to conclude this podcast season on psychological safety, we share a bit about why Inclusion in Progress is taking a step back from our work from this podcast next month to focus on our own well-being. And what we're hoping to return with on the other side of our much-needed break. So let's dive in.
The first reflection that's come up regularly for the team is that we often, as much as we try to create spaces regularly to reflect in our weekly wrap-up calls, in our monthly meetings where we look at the month ahead and our quarterly meetings, we haven't really stopped to let those reflections sink in. And reflecting and zooming out, which I say often to the team, means we will understand whether or not the forward movement that we're taking is in the right direction and get clarity on what our own next steps are. And that's normal, right? We've had to jump to react to what's in front of us since 2020, put DEI front and center in organizations as well as in the wider world. And, of course, we were already very uniquely positioned, as you all know, to help people out with our own intersections of equity and inclusion work - and remote work (as we are all 100% working remotely) - and cross-cultural communication.
So being able to take some time out to pause and to reflect is how I regularly revisit my own goals. And how we can leverage that same exercise as a team is one that I always tried to center in some way, shape, and form. But I was realizing, as we were coming to the end of a particularly heavy client delivery season, with everything that's happening in the world, that having those reflection moments just on our weekly calls wasn't enough. And the best reflection, at least in my experience, happens in those moments of pause… in those moments of silence. I mean, maybe this is because I'm an introvert so I actually need that silent space to process and reflect. But we were finding that that silence was becoming a little bit harder to find with so much to react to in front of us.
So, stopping to reflect over this month will help us decide how we want to operate as a team, as a business, moving forward after the break… will help us get clearer on the clients that we can keep serving and where - maybe - where we might consider introducing them to other partners who are either better positioned for their cultural context, or their timezone, or for the subject-matter expertise that they need to keep moving forward in equity and inclusion. You know, it's also helpful for us to consider how we can continue streamlining our services, what our systems and processes are to continue to communicate remotely, and making sure that our own well-being is still centered. And, of course, thinking where we can best leverage our expertise moving forward. And having that space to reflect, I think, will be really helpful over the course of the month that we have scheduled to take off.
The second thing was we also want to reconnect with our moments of joy, not just our pain. And I think this has been a running theme in the podcast for some months now because DEI is strategic and emotional labor. And we discussed that specifically, more in-depth on our previous episode this month - in June - on shame and DEI work. So check out Episode IIP091 if you haven't already. It's a really, really good one. And it really dives into the fact that DEI is a lot of constant emotional labor and unpacking your own trauma and your own triggers, oftentimes. So the emotional labor that I'm alluding to now has also been true for us on Inclusion in Progress as practitioners. We've been with client partners through racial injustice… through multiple racial injustice moments. It's hard to keep track of different levels of and layers of COVID, grief, these rapid, rapid shifts in how our workplace looks like, and what people expect and navigating the remote and hybrid conversation. We've supported client partners through several mass shootings in my birth country the US just this year, through the war in Ukraine, for those who are here in EMEA where I'm physically based, there are ongoing refugee crises, and so much more. And so, when you are tasked with holding space for client partners who are humans and are people that are navigating all of those things, you have to put your own feelings aside in that moment. But it doesn't mean that those emotions disappear. You have to find a way to decompress and process them in a healthy way. Which is not always easy to do.
So when we sat down as a team after I got back from the Camino, and after our team's recharge week, I'm not gonna lie… I could hear the lightness in our voices again. For the first time in a while, because of just how mired it sometimes feels like we are, in keeping up with delivery for this work and showing up for others in the way that we tried to do with integrity and, hopefully, with a good deal of helpful insights and intentionality behind it.
So working in a space where you live in, oftentimes, the pain of others that you need to live in to be able to understand DEI sometimes also triggers having to revisit your own pain, right? Your own experiences with non-belonging. Which I've shared very openly about on this podcast before. So I encourage you to go back through old episodes and listen and dive in if you want to learn more. But the same is also true for our own team, right? And for different reasons. And when you are surrounded and plugged into not just others' pain in your work, but also the real-life pain of so many people who are hurting from the last couple of years, it can mean that it's harder to reconnect with your joy, which is something that I really want all of us to reconnect with as a team, to be able to pour back into ourselves so that we can continue supporting each other and those who look to us for help.
You know, this is a tricky [conversation] to have. Because it doesn't mean that the work isn't still serious. It doesn't mean that the work is still not urgent and important. But it also requires us to draw from all of our faculties and our ability to really draw from our highest selves, which we can only really find in either moments of pause or moments of joy. And if you're just sitting in pain day in and day out, that takes its toll over time. So we can't wait to reconnect with our own moments of joy, whatever that looks like for each of us on our team.
And if you're listening to these reflections as someone who runs or works with your own remote team, and wants to discuss conversations about psychological safety in a way that's effective, that creates an inclusive environment for your team, where you have open discussions around, you know, what does work look like that allows us to show up as our best selves, we would love to invite you for a free call with our team.
Because whether it's learning how to take time off effectively, how to discuss burnout more openly so that you can have more conversations before it happens for yourself and for others, strategies that will support you in becoming a more effective remote team, and all the different channels that you need to utilize and leverage while you're all working remotely or in some version of [a] hybrid environment of psychological safety, where you feel like you can ask questions where you can lean on one another for support and figure out the new and the nuanced together, you really need to have that psychological safety in place, which ultimately is the foundation for having an inclusive workplace… it is so intimately tied to DEI.
And we at Inclusion in Progress take our experience as a fully remote team that has been working and operating in this way for a number of years, that discusses all of these issues openly across our different cultures or borders are life experiences. And we guide the likes of teams at, say, Red Hat or Instagram, and others with how to implement structures and systems that support your team's best work. So that you can increase the likelihood of retaining your best people on your team.
Now if you'd like to learn more about how we support remote teams through psychological safety, by having conversations like the ones we're having, on today's episode, openly head to the link in the show notes to book a call to work with us. And full transparency, we're already filling up spaces for Q4 2022 at the time of this recording, so that's October  onward. And we even have a few bookings for Q1 in 2023. So if you'd like to learn how we're not just practicing psychological safety as a remote team, but also helping advise others, then head to the link in the show notes. Or you can book a call with us or email us directly at email@example.com to schedule a call with us when we're back in the virtual office in August.
Finally, we want to honor ourselves as whole humans in this work. The DEI conversation is exciting because it's always evolving. There are so many ways that you can take it forward, you can dive deeper, you can go wider. But it can also be… true story, overwhelming for those of us who feel pressure to keep up with how it's continually evolving on all sides. Whether it's for a specific community as they are evolving their own language through social justice activism or for how a conversation about race isn't going to be well-received outside of a North American context and having to adjust it slightly.
Well, before it fell out of fashion, so to speak… in this conversation, DEI leaders talked often about the importance of “bringing your whole self to work”. Now, there's a lot of different people pointing holes in this idea now - whether it's from the cultural side, or the activist side, or from even the DEI and HR side - that bringing your whole self to work may not necessarily be the best idea, right? But regardless of whether or not that phrase is considered outdated - DEI practitioners, like those on our team, do bring our whole selves to work. Because how safe or unsafe we feel walking into a room where we've been tasked with delivery will condition how we feel before, during, and after the engagement has concluded and whether or not we're able to perform at our best, right?
It doesn't mean that we don't have to work harder to navigate those things or that we're supposed to turn into robots and not feel anything. But this idea of the whole self is inseparable for many of us who work in DEI. And this idea of the “whole self” that I want to come back to for this point of the conversation is that it is just as valuable for us from a non-work context for those of us who practice DEI. Now to us as a team, it means that Inclusion in Progress is also pouring into and drawing strength from our non-DEI roles. As some of us are new parents and primary caregivers, pet parents, passionate readers, instrumentalists, musicians and dancers and athletes, and quite a few would-be chefs on our team! (We're very passionate about food here.)
Because as urgent and as important and as necessary as this work feels… As scary as it might be to imagine what might happen when we aren't in the room leading DEI work, and not keeping our eye on the ball… we're also whole humans, outside of our practice. Making time to cultivate the other parts of who we are will help us to continue to grow as humans - as whole humans. While in those spaces of pause are reminding us of the luxury that we get to be able to cultivate our joy and pour back into ourselves is actually what we're doing this work for in the first place. So that others may actually benefit from those same privileges and pathways to advancement and fulfillment. That is why DEI work exists in the first place. But we need to create that space for ourselves to reconnect with that. And that's what we're looking forward to as we take this month off.
So there you have it, why we're taking next month, July 2022, off from the podcast, and also from our own work as a DEI practice. And some of the reasons and reflections that led to this decision, hopefully, something in that, by us sharing transparently, where we're at as a team, where I'm at as a CEO and a practitioner, that you can also take some of those reflections forward, potentially learn from identify what you want to take leave behind add to potentially even be inspired by to implement in your own life or practice.
Because what we've learned from working with DEI, with people and company culture leaders for the past eight years is this psychological safety. The foundation of creating inclusion is not just for the people who are going to be on the receiving end of the strategies we help create. It's just as important for the people like you as a practitioner, who looks after our employees, to feel that psychological safety as well. So that you have the knowledge that you can do your job effectively because you have the space to be able to try new things and recharge when you need it. As well as a way to seek out other perspectives to support your ability to do your work well if you need it. Because no one has this conversation cornered. Because it's always evolving. And the more perspectives that we have on actually leading equity and inclusion, as our world continues to diversify and grow in its ability to welcome more and more people into our places of work, the more perspectives we need, inside and outside organizations, to make sure that our people continue to stay supported.
Now many of the DEI leaders we've worked with also crave psychological safety, including us, which is why we're taking this time off. Because you [DEI leaders] want to know that your organization will support your desire to lead your work intentionally, to give you the access to the rooms and resources necessary to deliver the change you've been asked to deliver in the time that you know is necessary to implement it sustainably. So you also know that you can't do this alone. Right? Now more than ever, organizations need leaders who have the integrity to tell the truth, who have the ability to raise their hand and say, I don't know, but I'm willing to learn the courage to ask for and accept help when they need it, and the guts to act in the interest of others. Achieving psychological safety for remote teams is going to continue to be a component of your DEI strategy. Having conversations like the ones that we had on this episode today, to discuss how we continue to pour into ourselves and landing upon the conclusion of needing to take that time off is part of how we create the psychological safety that our remote teams need to stay effective to trust each other and continue to work at their best across the different time zones and locations and lived experiences. Which is why the Inclusion in Progress team is here to help, because our own remote team spans APAC, EMEA, and the Americas. We've worked with the likes of Red Hat, Instagram, the IMF, Philips, Headspace, and more to support remote teams with equity and inclusion since well before the pandemic.
So if you'd like to learn more about how we can help facilitate conversations around inclusion, equity, psychological safety, like the one that we lead on this episode today, to help boost morale and engagement at a time when your people need it most. Head to the link in the show notes to get in touch with our team or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As I shared at the top of the episode, we've opened up slots for consulting and training for Q4 2022 and Q1 in 2023. So before we close all of our slots for the rest of 2022. We'd love to share how we could partner with you this year to foster inclusion for your remote teams.
Thank you again so much for listening to this episode of this podcast to the show. Now again, we won't have a new episode out until after July 2022. But don't worry! We encourage you to listen to the other ninety-one episodes on the show. There's plenty for you to dive into. So we're not leaving empty-handed.
But, as always be well, take care of yourselves, take care of one another, and share this episode with someone who would benefit. And we'll see you next time here on Inclusion in Progress.