Inaugural Community Case for Inclusion a Success
Do you know the difference between prejudice and bias? That was the question that tripped up many of the participants in the inaugural Community Case for Inclusion event hosted by the Tulsa Area United Way Women’s Leadership Council and the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice in March.
The Greenwood Cultural Center welcomed a sold-out crowd of more than 200 community members who were invited to begin exploring the world of diversity and inclusion through activities, table discussion and engagement with TAUW community partners. The program was led by Moises Echeverria, President and CEO, OCCJ; Josh Linton, Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator, ONE Gas; and Sarah Rana, Program Director, OCCJ. Sponsors QuikTrip, LUXA Enterprises and 3S Group of Hotels helped underwrite the cost so the event was accessible for anyone interested.
Presenters framed the conversation as a step on participants' inclusion journey rather than a skill to master and move on from. The conversation was not about changing anyone’s mind, but encouraging people to think about how they interact with others and how they can do that in civil way. They suggested participants think about the Platinum Rule “Treat others how they want to be treated,” as a subtle but important re-framing of the Golden Rule that provides for a more inclusive community.
Attendees learned about the concept of inclusion and how it is different from diversity, why it is important to see the difference between equality and equity, how to define the key terms involved in conversations related to inclusion and basic demographics about the Tulsa community and why this topic matters as we look to the future in our community. In table conversations, participants learned about unconscious bias by creating stories for people based purely on a provided photo. Often the true stories, which were unveiled after the exercise, were quite different and helped attendees see where their own biases might be, even the positive ones. If you are interested in examining your own implicit bias, try the free University of Harvard Implicit Association Test.
In addition to the formal presentation, guests interacted with Tulsa Area United Way partner agencies and learned how they are addressing the “isms” through their programs. Nearly 20 agencies were featured, though all TAUW agencies could have easily been included in the fair.
Final comments from Alison Anthony, incoming president of CEO of TAUW, and Lisa McLarty, chair of WLC, encouraged participants to share the knowledge they had gained during the day and to look for additional opportunities to learn more as they continue their journey.
For the record, Quora.com says that “Prejudice is an unjustified or incorrect attitude (usually negative) towards an individual based solely on the individual's membership of a social group. Bias is the inclination or prejudice for (or against) one person or group or concept, especially in a way considered to be unfair."
Ways you can continue to make your community more inclusive:
- Ask someone at your table to be an Accountability Buddy. Trade business cards and make a date to check in and discuss ways you’ve integrated the information you received today.
- Make a date with the people at your table to have lunch in a part of town you don’t usually frequent – have pho at Nam Hai in East Tulsa, smothered chicken at Ollie’s in West Tulsa, catfish at Sweet Lisa’s in North Tulsa, or pizza at Andolini’s on the Riverwalk in South Tulsa, for example.
- Invite someone to your home who is different than you.
- Share an “ah ha” moment from today with your family, friends, and co-workers.
- Sign up to attend a Second Thursday Partner Agency Tour to deepen the understanding of the challenges our fellow citizens face.
- Volunteer with one of our Partner Agencies.
- Volunteer to help run the campaign at your company to raise more money for our Partner Agencies so they can assist more people and families to live their best lives.
- If you are on a board, get involved in board development to recommend diverse candidates for consideration.
- Join Women’s Leadership Council and/or Emerging Leaders Society.