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Standing Up for What's Right

Standing up for what’s right can be so hard at times when you are the only person or the first person to speak up. But the thing is, if no one ever speaks up for what’s right, positive change can never happen.

Many people complain in private or to a few trusted colleagues on their off time. But that’s like throwing a Dixie cup of water on the carpet in the hallway when the raging fire is on the other side of the building in the conference room. The fire grows and grows because no one is addressing it in any meaningful way.

Complaining without action is weak. As leaders, we must be BRAVE enough and BOLD enough to do what we signed up to do, which is to use our voice to make a difference.

Reflecting back, I remember being in a leadership meeting discussing the membership of a search committee we were putting together. I recall looking at the names of those selected to be on the search committee and feeling like I had been punched in the gut. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, but I did my best to hold them back. “How could this be,” I thought? How could all 13 people on the search committee be white? And how am I going to bring this up without sounding like an angry black woman?

But seriously, how could an organization who states loudly and boldly that they are committed to diversity, social justice and inclusion not have one person of color on this search committee?

I remember raising my hand and pointing out this fact and I had tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t believe I was crying in a meeting, but I couldn’t help it. I was so angry, shocked, and disappointed that this had happened in this day in age (this was about 10 years ago) and that I even had to bring it up.

I had honestly waited for someone else to speak up but no one said anything.

Once I said my peace, people started to speak up and they did make changes to the search committee list.

Have there been times you should have spoken up but didn’t? What held you back? What change or difference would it have made had you spoken up?

What steps can you take to find your voice and the courage to use it?

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