President's Message 

February 2023

Hello again, friends!

Welcome to February. As we move into Black History Month, I want to take a moment and talk about inclusivity in the workplace. Many of our institutions have likely put an increased focus on diversity and inclusion efforts over the last few years. You likely see (and may even participate in) committees, projects, and events around your campus or in your community that are devoted to these efforts.  

Yet, how many of us feel equipped with the practical tools to foster inclusivity and belonging in our everyday interactions? Studies (and the real lived experiences of traditionally underrepresented people including my own) show that the most impactful inclusivity efforts we experience at work are those that come from individuals we interact with – interpersonal conversations, rather than ceremonial occasions.

So how then, do we create connection and nurture belonging in ways that are more meaningful? It’s likely easier than you think. Below are ways that you can put into action today in order to better weave deeper inclusion into your everyday work.

  • Normalize pronouns:  While using the pronouns of those around you is a basic tenet of respectful and inclusive behavior, it is even more significant to intentionally take action to normalize the communication of pronouns even when/especially when you identify with whatever pronouns would typically be associated with you. Simple ways to do this include adding your pronouns to your email signature, incorporating them into your introductions when meeting people, and changing your Zoom or Teams name to include them for virtual meetings.
  • Encourage respectful language:  Encouraging respectful language includes avoiding ableism and refraining from the use of (and calling others out if they use) language that is disparaging to others. It also includes stopping dynamics where individuals interrupt or talk over one another during meetings, and intentionally recognizing when someone is contributing to the team in a meaningful way. Finally, it includes making an effort to pronounce each person's name correctly.
  • Tie organizational efforts to everyday conversations:  The goal of any DEIB effort is to ensure that the practice of inclusion becomes innate in what you do. It isn’t a month or a day or a workshop… there’s no “magic bullet” that lets you become inclusive at once and allows you to check it off your list.  Inclusivity is practice, and as such, it has to become an automatic part of what we do in order to have real impact. So, talk about things that are going on with others – talk about what you’ve learned, what you like, what you’re having trouble understanding, or what you think you as an individual or team can do better. Talking about it keeps it top of mind, and helps it bleed more easily into other things you’re already doing.

I hope this has been helpful for you, or at least given you something to think about as you make your way through this month. Read on for exciting news about things going on in our organization this month, and feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn or email if you’d like to delve further into this conversation! Have a happy, healthy February!

Kioshana LaCount Burrell
President, ACSN

LinkedIn:  Kioshana LaCount Burrell, MBA
Email: [email protected]