If I'm Comfortable Does That Mean I'm Included? And If I'm Included, Will I Now Be Comfortable?

Chapter (PDF Available) · January 2016with 133 Reads
In book: Positive Organizing in a Global Society: Understanding and Engaging Differences for Capacity Building and Inclusion, Publisher: Routledge, Editors: Laura Morgan Roberts, Lynn Perry Wooten, Martin N. Davidson, pp.65-70
Inclusion requires safety and comfort across differences—enabling all voices to be expressed, heard, and valued—but also ways to address the discomforts that inevitably arise when dealing with differences. Inclusion is not only about the comfort associated with being an “insider;” paradoxically, it also involves more of us—especially those relatively comfortable with the previously less inclusive system—becoming somewhat uncomfortable. To create inclusion, we must all become “outsiders” to some degree, expecting that others will not read our minds or agree with our perspectives and becoming more comfortable with the relative discomfort of regularly confronting and engaging with differences.
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 
  • ... • • How do we experience, balance, and manage the inherent tension between the discomfort of differences and the creation and maintenance of a safe, "comfort- able," inclusive environment? • • How can we become suitably and sufficiently comfortable with discomfort (Ferdman, 2016)? ...
    ... When this experience spreads across individuals and multiple iden- tity groups, then the collective is more likely have access to a greater range of diversity, diversity that can then better contribute to collective success. In this sense, then, inclu- sion very much requires making space for more people and groups to be at ease, to be comfortable, and to be fine with being exactly who they are (Ferdman, 2016). ...
    Inclusion is a process and practice that involves working with diversity as a resource. In inclusive organizations and societies, people of all identities and many styles can be fully themselves while also contributing to the larger collective, as valued and full members. Working toward inclusion in diverse organizations and societies can often be experienced as polarizing and presents many challenges and tensions. These tensions can productively be understood and addressed from a paradox perspective. This article discusses three core paradoxes of inclusion: those involving self-expression and identity, boundaries and norms, and safety and comfort. The manifestations of and approaches to managing each paradox are discussed.
  • ... On the one hand, inclusion involves safety, with people being at ease and able to do their own thing. On the other hand, because in a diverse society or group we will constantly need to engage across differences, more of us are going to be more uncomfortable more of the time (Ferdman, 2016(Ferdman, , 2017. The challenges to diversity and inclusion during the Trump administration remind us that this discomfort extends to D&I practitioners; those of us focused on fostering inclusion in organizations and society must continue to find appropriate ways to address our own discomfort with those who may have different views or experiences, while we simultaneously continue to learn about and champion inclusive practices and policies and help to define (and redefine) appropriate boundaries for inclusion. ...
    (Article is available at http://bit.ly/EDI-Ferdman) Purpose This paper explores challenges and opportunities created for inclusion by the election and installation of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Design/methodology/approach The paper uses the author’s personal and professional experience and perspectives to raise and address questions about the limits of inclusion, alternative perspectives on inclusion, and approaches for sustaining attention to and continuing to foster inclusion. Findings Although inclusion can be conceptualized in different ways, a nuanced and complex view that incorporates limits to tolerance of behavior that undermines inclusion along with clear rules of engagement, civility, and respect may be most useful and productive. Originality/value The paper applies a paradoxical perspective to understanding the implications of a Trump administration for the practice of inclusion, including those particularly relevant for organizational diversity and inclusion practitioners.
  • Article
    Purpose Racially traumatic events – such as police violence and brutality toward Blacks – affect individuals in and outside of work. Black employees may “call in Black” to avoid interacting with coworkers in organizations that lack resources and perceived identity and psychological safety. The paper aims to discuss this issue. Design/methodology/approach The paper integrates event system theory (EST), resourcing, and psychological safety frameworks to understand how external, racially traumatic events impact Black employees and organizations. As racially traumatic events are linked to experienced racial identity threat, the authors discuss the importance of both the availability and creation of resources to help employees to maintain effective workplace functioning, despite such difficult circumstances. Findings Organizational and social-identity resourcing may cultivate social, material, and cognitive resources for black employees to cope with threats to their racial identity after racially traumatic events occur. The integration of organizational and social-identity resourcing may foster identity and psychologically safe workplaces where black employees may feel valued and reduce feelings of racial identity threats. Research limitations/implications Implications for both employees’ social-identity resourcing practice and organizational resource readiness and response options are discussed. Originality/value The authors present a novel perspective for managing diversity and inclusion through EST. Further, the authors identify the interaction of individual agency and organizational resources to support Black employees.
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