Intergenerational Diversity & Inclusion - A Panel Discussion (March 11, 2018)

  Patricia Bory  is currently a faculty member at the University of Maryland (UMD) School of Public Policy where she teaches courses in nonprofit leadership and social change; and serves as a Senior Advisor with UMD’s Do Good Institute.  In addition to teaching, Patricia is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Include Consulting, an organization development firm working at the intersection of diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and organizational success.  Patricia has spent 20-years building strong leaders, teams, and organizations in the public and nonprofit sectors.   She identifies as a queer white woman and is a proud mamma of her 3-year old daughter, Amaya.

Patricia Bory is currently a faculty member at the University of Maryland (UMD) School of Public Policy where she teaches courses in nonprofit leadership and social change; and serves as a Senior Advisor with UMD’s Do Good Institute.  In addition to teaching, Patricia is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Include Consulting, an organization development firm working at the intersection of diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and organizational success.  Patricia has spent 20-years building strong leaders, teams, and organizations in the public and nonprofit sectors.   She identifies as a queer white woman and is a proud mamma of her 3-year old daughter, Amaya.

  Nial Rele  grew up in India and Nigeria and moved to the United States in 2008 to attend Middlebury College. Since graduating from college, Nial has worked at Middlebury College, Colorado College, Lewis & Clark College and Harvard University in several Student Life and Admissions roles all focused on creating and supporting vibrant and inclusive communities at these institutions. He received a master's degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2014.

Nial Rele grew up in India and Nigeria and moved to the United States in 2008 to attend Middlebury College. Since graduating from college, Nial has worked at Middlebury College, Colorado College, Lewis & Clark College and Harvard University in several Student Life and Admissions roles all focused on creating and supporting vibrant and inclusive communities at these institutions. He received a master's degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2014.

  Mary-Frances Winters , president and founder of The Winters Group, Inc. is a master strategist with over 30 years experience in strategic planning, change management, diversity, organization development, training and facilitation, systems thinking and qualitative and quantitative research methods. She has extensive experience in working with senior leadership teams to drive organizational change. Described by clients as highly creative, collaborative, visionary and results oriented, she is a sought after keynote speaker and workshop leader. 

Mary-Frances Winters, president and founder of The Winters Group, Inc. is a master strategist with over 30 years experience in strategic planning, change management, diversity, organization development, training and facilitation, systems thinking and qualitative and quantitative research methods. She has extensive experience in working with senior leadership teams to drive organizational change. Described by clients as highly creative, collaborative, visionary and results oriented, she is a sought after keynote speaker and workshop leader. 

On March 11, 2018, Inclusion NextWork held its first Community Conversation: a panel discussion focused on intergenerational diversity & inclusion (D&I). Our distinguished multi-generational panelists included Patricia Bory (Faculty, University of Maryland/Founder, Include Consulting) from Generation X, Nial Rele (Senior Assistant Director Admissions, Middlebury College) from Millennials/Generation Y, and Mary-Frances Winters (CEO & President of The Winters Group) of the Baby Boomer generation. We discussed where D&I has been, where we are right now, and where we need to go in order to drive the greatest impact.  

The panelists highlighted the importance of this time as an opportunity to build on the momentum in diversity & inclusion and work across different generations. We are at a crossroads, so we have to stay vigilant, avoid complacency, and continue to ask ourselves what is next in this work so that we can keep pushing ourselves to innovate and meet the challenges that are ahead. A strong and connected intersectional pipeline of D&I advocates and leaders will be critical to the sustainability and evolution of this work.  

Our speakers identified several themes that will be critical for the future:

  • Redefining inclusion: for younger generations, inclusion refers to a deeper sense of belonging and the co-creation of spaces, cultures, and systems.

  • Exchanging stories: sharing our stories will increase understanding and strengthen relationships

  • Reciprocal mentorship: each generation can learn from one another, and we have to actively foster a culture of mentoring and learning across difference

For a more detailed reflection on these topics, click here.

 

The panelists also answered questions from the audience:

What can you do when you experience a discrepancy between an organization’s stated diversity and inclusion commitment and what occurs and is experienced in practice?

One of the panelists recommended that before joining an organization, you should ask a lot of questions about their D&I work. Do your homework online and through your network. If you’re experiencing a misalignment once inside the organization, try to distinguish between what the organization as a whole is doing, and what you’re experiencing directly in your department or team, or with your manager. People join companies but leave managers; in other words, sometimes the lack of inclusion is not necessarily true across the organization, but may be specific to your leader. Another panelist suggested to use your newness to the organization to your advantage to ask questions and explore with your leader how to improve D&I. If you experience a gap at any time of your career, the panelists also encouraged participant to consider supporting, developing, or leading initiatives that will help to close it. If there continues to be a significant discrepancy, you may want to consider making an employer change if you need to.

 

How can organizations help to foster intergenerational dialogue and reciprocal mentoring?

Our panelists noted that organizations can encourage a culture of dialogue, learning, feedback, and mentorship in many different ways. This can be done in formal and informal ways.  They may want to institutional a reciprocal mentorship program or organize town halls or discussion circles to connect across difference and talk about difficult topics. Training and opportunities for giving and receiving feedback are also important, and leaders have to model these behaviors consistently.

 

Do you recommend leaving out “diversity” from the name of a D&I initiative to avoid potential controversy?

One of the panelists felt strongly that language matters; what we choose to say or not say has an impact. Language around diversity and inclusion has changed over time and continues to evolve. Sometimes the term “inclusion” is more popular now because it is thought to be better received by the masses. Diversity can make some people feel uncomfortable, especially those who enjoy privileges of dominant identity dimensions. However, D&I work requires us to lean into discomfort and diversity is a critical concept; you cannot have inclusion without diversity, so why not call it what it is? Another panelist noted that we also see terms like access and equity emerging as part of D&I language, especially on university campuses.

 

Jonathan Braxton