Courageous Conversation

This past Friday I was fortunate enough to be part of a Cultural Diversity session held at the Aurora Public Library – week #4 of the 2018 Aurora Leadership Academy. The sessions held during the previous three weeks have been informative, engaging, interesting, and motivating. This week was truly inspiring.

The guest speaker was Dr. Adrienne Coleman, director of Equity and Inclusion at IMSA, Illinois Math and Science Academy. First of all, what an amazing title – the director of two wonderful things, equity and inclusion! Teaching our youth every day about what it means to be fair and impartial while ensuring an inclusive community is so important. As the director of MCAI, I realized that I too have the opportunity to foster an equitable and inclusive workplace and environment for our patients and their families.

Dr. Coleman challenged the group to have courageous conversations. These courageous conversations were about oppression, bias, and diversity. Were we culturally aware? Have we explored our unconscious bias? Do we readily acknowledge that we don’t know what we don’t know?

In order to really dig deeper into these questions, she shared these tenets of courageous conversation: Staying Engaged, Speaking Your Truth, Experiencing Discomfort and Expecting and Accepting Non-Closure.

The first of these was so simple, yet something we all struggle with. Stay engaged – don’t mentally check out of a conversation. We have all done it. We are ‘listening’ to another person but simultaneously processing our response in our minds – so are we truly listening? Are we honest about our thoughts, feelings and opinions when we speak, or do we say what we think others want to hear? These conversations are often uncomfortable – that’s why they take courage! It is okay to experience some discomfort when examining some of the inequities and injustices that we see every day. And finally, as we seek solutions, we need to understand that closure may not always be reached, but that should not diminish or stifle the conversation.

We all need to be equity-minded. The difference between equality and equity is important. Equality is leveling the playing field so everyone has equal access. Equity is the quality of treating individuals fairly based on their needs. We also need to check our bias. Where do we stand on racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, and ageism? Each and every one of us is responsible for the elimination of inequity and celebrating diversity. Dr. Coleman challenged me to be culturally competent and to engage in bold, inclusive conversations. Are you ready to have courageous conversations? As hundreds of thousands gathered over this past weekend to March for Our Lives, it reminded me of the hundreds of thousands of courageous conversations that we are having and will hopefully continue to have in our personal lives and our workplace.

Gloria Hall is the Director of Midwest Center for Advanced Imaging, the outpatient imaging facility for Rush Copley Medical Center. She is a participant in the 2018 Aurora Chamber Leadership Academy.

2 Responses to “Courageous Conversation”

  1. Yolanda Dunn says:

    I really enjoyed Dr. Adrienne’s insight on this topic. I am also very grateful the Aurora Chamber of Commerce felt the need to incorporate this much needed session into the Leadership Academy program.

  2. Caroline Siwkowski Callahan says:

    Working on the last one in general…Accepting non-closure, I would add that you shouldn’t just accept it, it causes us to be inquisitive and that’s how real growth happens.