I used to watch a lot of the old Real World episodes. Early on, I fell in love with the documentary-style content and that feeling that we were taking a sneak peek into people’s lives, beliefs, and conflicts.
It was fascinating to me as a kid who grew up on military bases. Think about it. Every adult I knew wore the same uniform as my parents and lived in a replica of my house. It was rare to have a glimpse into walks of life so far outside my reality. Challenging, too. Rigidity is a commonality in military and Catholic families; mine was both. There were no alternative beliefs.
Every week, the show would challenge those absolutes I heard at the dinner table throughout my life by broaching taboo topics like abortion, gay marriage, and AIDS. It was the first time I saw people talk about their experience versus the nightly judgment served with my dinner.
As an adult, I realize they carried a more significant weight than simply changing young minds. They were “the first.” Pedro Zamora was the first gay man with HIV prominently featured on TV. Tami Roman’s abortion on reality TV was unfiltered. As “the first,” they were willing to sacrifice anonymity and challenge a society filled with silent status quos that have never really served our country or people.
They gave a face to issues and set movements in motion. When so many viewers thought about these issues, they suddenly had faces, stories, and names. Audiences were able to understand the impact on people, not just some policy.
When I write about diversity and inclusion, I think about being the first or only one and how that feels. The self-questioning begins, and the loudest one is this: How could I be successful if no one like me has ever succeeded in this place?
Tactics, tools, and one-day training won’t change it; I know that. Building a place where people believe they can thrive calls for a philosophical evolution, not a list of tactics. So often, in our urgency to find answers, we forget that most scenarios require that we address our mindset first.
When people ask me how to write an inclusive job posting, I have to burst their bubble. “Everything I write is inclusive,” I say.
There’s not one slide or a dedicated lesson about diversity. I write with inclusion in mind every single step of the way. I’ve evolved my entire thought process around job post writing to assure the content we write is more inclusive, and the online job post-training course is no exception. We looked at 100-year-old trends and taboos posted today to understand how words and tactics influence people, and I wrote about that in my blog this week.
But before you dive into the tactics, remember the mindset has to evolve first.
For them. The faces, the stories, the names. Brave people willing to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.
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