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I am an American by birth and a Norwegian by choice. The things that keep me up at night follow my career trajectory. The field that I'm pursuing now is all about storytelling, humor, and bringing new ways of thinking and working into the space of inclusion, diversity, and equity in the workplace. This is the most meaningful work I think I've ever done.

There are a lot of companies that are really good at talking the big game. They put inclusion, sustainability, and innovation at the core of what they do and it's s great that we have leadership who is championing these causes. But the connection between the top level, mission, and the grassroots level actions in an organization can be a difficult journey sometimes . What we do is that we help them along that journey by providing them with the ignition to push down the acceleration and move forward in the space of inclusion.

Shutting up is one of those things that I, too, as a straight white man had to struggle with my whole life. I have to take a conscious act to step back and to remind myself that everything that I'm saying isn't worth saying.

A lot of times giving space to others to have their say can really change the game. This simple approach can really change the way I think and the value that I get out of whatever interaction we might be having.

A lot of people who share those kinds of privileges need to realize that we can rethink our role in teams and in relationships. We need to rethink how important every thought that comes into our head might be for the discussion. Then just take a step back and start thinking about what the other person is saying and what would happen if we just held back a little.

I've never had my intelligence doubted; I've never gone to a job interview or been up on stage and someone doubted that I deserved to be there. This wasn't necessarily because of what I was saying. It was just because of how I presented myself.

I think it's important to remind ourselves that a lot of us have authority just by being present. And if you add to that the label of my doctorate, that brings even more authority, more privilege, and more capacity. So for me it's important to remind myself of those privileges, but also to exercise restraint even though I do have these privileges.

Having privilege doesn't make it necessary for me to sit and bask in those privileges. What I could actually do is use those privileges to empower others and to bring them in so they can be part of the conversation.

When I talk to male leaders about inclusion I notice a lot of fear, shame, and even intimidation. It's a feeling of "This is not something for me. This is not something that I can get any value out of, or this is something that I should be embarrassed about because I'm not part of those communities or because my company may not be performing that well."

So I think there's a lot of fear of that criticism and fear of not doing enough. And then it becomes easier to do nothing or to ignore it and let it be somebody else's problem. Let's just put together a women's group and they'll fix it.

But this kind of offloading the responsibility of leadership onto the groups who are the ones who are actively marginalized or, worse, oppressed within that organization is not the solution. We have got to share in that responsibility, and it does start with leadership.

One of the solutions to bring more people into driving inclusion is to just make it fun. Everybody wants to have fun. Everybody wants to experience joy and happiness.

I think that even as serious as the issue of inclusion is - and it's deadly serious, it can be life and death for some people - yet even this level of seriousness doesn't mean that it can't be an enjoyable experience to put it into practice. Because it can be a lot of fun, and it can bring a lot of joy to so many people, including those leaders and the people who aren't even seen as being the recipients of a DEI program.

And it's not just joy on a superficial level. It's joy on a very real level because that's where you find innovation. That's where you find new markets and new opportunities to grow as an organization.

If you can connect with someone who has a very different background and experience than you, if you can have a very safe environment where you can talk about critical issues and how we can move the company forward, that is going to grow your business.


Connect with Dr. Anthony Giannoumis via his LinkedIn profile.

Visit Dr. Anthony's personal website and book him for your next keynote talk on inclusion in the workplace.

Visit the web page of his company Inclusive Creation.

Buy Dr. Anthony Giannoumis's latest book: The Sins and Wins of Inclusive Leadership: A Manual for the Modern Workplace.

Join us in THE CEO ELEVATION CIRCLE for more similar inspiring interviews with women and men CEOs and global leadership experts.

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