DEI Candid Conversation

February 22, 2022
Written by: Madeline Gilmer, ARCO/Murray
Timnetra Burruss, Chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, and Lynn Smith, DEI Director and Board Liaison for the Equity and Inclusion Committee, led a candid conversation on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on Thursday, February 17th. Sixteen other CREW members participated in the conversation. Lynn Smith introduced the event as "a safe space for introspective, authentic conversations." The group discussed unconscious biases, diversity of personal and professional circles, experiences where the individual felt like a minority, and struggles associated with diversity. 
Participants were encouraged to take Project Implicit's Implicit Association Test (IAT) prior to attending the conversation. Members discussed their resulting biases and steps they have taken to combat them. All attendees of the event communicated their gratitude for the productive conversation and excitement to continue to discuss within the Chicago chapter and with other chapters across the United States.

DEI Candid Conversation Discussion Topics:  “Inclusive Professional and Personal Connections”: 
1.    Please put in the chat, why you signed up for this event and what you hope to get out of it.
2.    If you took the Implicit Association Test (IAT), were you surprised by the findings and unconscious biases identified? What are you doing to manage them? 
3.    What challenges do you have with some diversity and inclusion issues? Ex. Pronouns, etc.
4.    Of the friendships you have built within CREW, how have those relationships transitioned in your professional and personal life?  What assists in those transitions?
5.    When thinking about your professional connections and relationships, do you consider your “network” diverse?  Why or why not? 
6.    When you think of your friendship circle, would you consider it to be diverse?  Why or why not? 
7.    How do you develop friendships? Where do you tend to meet your friends? 
8.    When you think of events that you have held in your home, what does the guest list look like?  How do you determine who you are inviting?
9.    What are some examples of when you went to an event or someone’s home and no one looked like you?  How did you feel? Were you welcomed and included?  If not, describe the circumstances.

1.    Recognize your Unconscious Biases (aka Implicit Bias, Affinity Bias). 
  • Take the Implicit Association Test:
  • Understand the role unconscious bias plays in everyday decision-making
  • Recognize how you may be engaging in and affected by affinity bias
  • Identify inclusive behaviors and effective networking strategies
  • We all have biases. Recognizing what yours may be and then taking steps to connect with those who aren’t currently part of your sphere can open your world up to new insights and opportunities that will benefit you both personally and professionally.
2.    Diverse and inclusive personal connections and relationships lead to diverse and inclusive professional connections.
3.    Diverse connections and interactions in your daily life demystifies differences and normalizes being in environments with diverse people from different races, religions, nationalities, sexual orientations, and socio-economic backgrounds. Your awareness of when you are not in diverse and inclusive environments will increase and give you a chance to speak out about it, if warranted.
4.    Diversity brings a variety of ideas and viewpoints to you professionally and to your workplace especially when creative problem solving is required.
5.    Think creatively about expanding your network  (i.e.: commonalties through hobbies or special interests)
6.    Make a concerted effort to connect face to face with those who are not like you.
7.    The biggest benefit to a diverse network is the exposure to new ideas and fresh perspectives
8.    Our one-to-one connections with each other are the foundation for change. Building relationships with people from different backgrounds and cultures is key in building diverse communities that are powerful enough to achieve significant goals.