The value of asking hard questions and learning to sit with discomfort are key takeaways from DEI certificate program.
My key takeaway from attending the most recent Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Cornell Certificate Program is actually a question that calls me to action: How can I help create a sense of community and belonging that makes people feel safe at work? So safe that they’ll submit questions, reach for a big goal that they might fail to achieve and, in the biggest picture, bring their authentic selves to work? So safe that we’ll better serve our members and more fully deliver on our mission?
As the leader of the CUES supplier solutions team, I believe the answer lies in being courageous enough to ask about difficult things and in being OK with being uncomfortable.
For example, I have regular meetings with each member of my team. In those sessions, I often say, “If you are having an issue with your work at CUES or with CUES as an organization, please talk to me or another person in leadership so we can work on it together.”
I recognize that speaking up isn’t easy. For one thing, my supplier solutions team, while mighty, is small. Because of that, we are nimble. But because of that, team members may feel like their voices are louder than they want them to be when they raise a concern.
One way I’m trying to make speaking up safer is by walking the DEI talk. For example, I’ve been paying closer attention to the way I say things and trying to use more inclusive language. (Let me tell you, using “guys” is a hard habit to break.)
Be OK Being Uncomfortable
Sometimes conversations about change are tough, but I really believe—and the Cornell course underscores—that the more we put ourselves into awkward but constructive conversations that honor individuals, the more comfortable it will be to do so the next time. cues icon
Kari Sweeney is VP/supplier solutions at CUES. Reach her at email@example.com.
Alphabetical list of class participants: Trina Alli; Yvette Avila; Leanna Beasant; Rachel Biars; Lisa Bowers; Carl Clark Jr., CUDE, CCUFC; Felicia Coney; Christopher David; Ben Davidson; Stephanie DeGrand; Cinnamon Elliott; Travis N. Frey, CCE; Robyn Galtieri; Manny Garcia; Lars Gilberts; Brittany Hanson; Jamie Hobgood; Ruby Huggler; Ashley Ingle; Vashyon Jackson; Jill E. Kozlok, CUDE, CCUFC; Adam Lee; James MacFarlane, CCD; Susan Makris, CIE; Sonya McDonald; Mary Jane Morrison; Renee Otiende; Shahani Perera; Vicki Plank; Micaela Sandy; Janet Schreiber; Samantha Shatz; Dawn Simon; Kari Sweeney; Michelle Wood