Sally Helgesen, known for her keen insights on leadership and author of Rising Together: How We Can Bridge Divides and Create a More Inclusive Workplace, recently joined The Business of Giving podcast. She didn’t hold back, diving into the nitty-gritty of what makes or breaks an inclusive work environment.


Sally Helgesen Author of Rising Together: How We Can Bridge Divides and Create a More Inclusive Workplace

The Hurdles We Don’t See: Triggers
Helgesen underscores the significance of recognizing triggers that contribute to unproductive narratives. She notes that the primary challenge in bridging divides is dealing with the triggers that surface when people interact with others who differ from them. By acknowledging and addressing these triggers, organizations can cultivate a more inclusive and supportive atmosphere for all employees.

Being Seen: The Balancing Act of Visibility
Helgesen cites visibility as an example of a trigger that can appear differently depending on an individual’s perception of recognition. She argues that individuals should reframe their internal scripts to concentrate on more constructive narratives and actions, even if they might not fully believe in them at first.

Keep It Real, But Keep Growing
“Authenticity is great, but don’t let it become an anchor,” warns Helgesen. Being true to yourself is essential, but clinging to “this is how I am” can stonewall personal and professional growth. It’s like refusing to take off a comfy old jacket even though it’s falling apart. “Embrace change and growth as buddies who are just part of the ride,” she adds.

Action Speaks Louder: Making Real Change
Lastly, Helgesen gets real about the need to focus on actions over thoughts. She points out that we can’t just think our way into a more inclusive workplace – we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and get to work. “Unconscious bias training often misses the mark. It’s action that counts,” says Helgesen. She lays it out plain: support your colleagues, really listen to what they’re saying, and help them chase their goals.

In a nutshell, Sally Helgesen serves up a blueprint for taking workplaces from ‘meh’ to ‘yeah!’ By staying alert to triggers, keeping a level head about visibility, embracing change without losing yourself, and focusing on actions, organizations can build a house where everyone feels at home.

Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving serves as a Trusted Advisor and Executive Coach to Nonprofit Leaders. His Book, The Business of Giving: New Best Practices for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leaders in an Uncertain World, is available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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