Jennifer Sconyers came to discuss her extensive work in diversity and inclusion, alongside commentary on what lessons she learned. Being the president and founder of Abundance Leadership Consulting, Jennifer continuously worked with numerous companies and observed a lack of diverse talent. Absence of diversity only intensified as the conditions did not allow diverse backgrounds to thrive and be successful. For diversity and inclusion, companies and organizations will benefit from viewing their environment from all sides.
Examining both the internal and external relationships of a company reveal culture being upheld in the operations. Jennifer touched on what it looks like for a company where diversity has no longevity and added that the external affairs are important. The relationships with customers, clients, or any part of the external operation can also hold clues to how a company is choosing to interact with diversity. She explained how this can be experienced on different levels of a company, and the significance of tradition. A company that opened 100 years ago is more likely to have a set culture and be part of a larger system, which could make the issues of diversity a more tangled topic than a company first expects. Anything you change must be changed at the root, but reaching the root is not always easy.
A portion of the work is discovering what it means to be anti-racist. Uncovering the systems constructing racism give space for individuals to dismantle, and create something new. Jennifer emphasizes this work is not to be done as a badge of honor, but to “fundamentally” change people’s outcomes for the better. The work is a long term commitment.
At times the work appears in direct relationships, such as connections between co-workers or between relatives. Jennifer spoke on ways to approach the task of difficult discussion with relatives. We then switched into discussing relationships as building professional partnerships. I mentioned to Jennifer ways GiveBackHack is encouraging a more diverse environment. She took this moment to bring attention to the need for both sides to receive value. She expressed that people are willing to recruit for “diversity” as a metric. There needs to be value for the company, and for the individuals, the company is recruiting.
“If you’re doing it because you need to increase diversity numbers, I would say rethink that. Cause there’s gotta be something in it for both of you.”–Jennifer Sconyers
Jennifer explained how diversity is not only race but thought and experience. Diversity work is around including diverse backgrounds and making the environment welcoming. Involvement in the work is the follow up to actually acknowledging the work needs to be done. Jennifer gave a creative example on how oppressive structural systems are like a default wallpaper, which really speaks to the proactive nature and awareness we need. Recognizing the first steps in diversity and inclusion helps us find workable, impact-filled solutions in how we move forward.