Thursday, October 26, 2017

Building Structures of Inclusion

By Katie Meyer, Product and Compliance Risk Manager 

“Belonging is the most important good we distribute in society, as it is prior to and informs all other distributive decisions. We must support the creation of structures of inclusion that recognize and accommodate difference, rather than seek to erase it. We need practices that create voice without denying our deep interrelationships.”  John A. Powell and Stephen Menendian. 

That was a quote taken from the YWCA’s 2017 Racial Justice Summit program, an event CUNA Mutual Group has sponsored for a number of years. 

Personally, am proud that the company I've worked with for 12 years recognizes the importance of such an event and supports it. Like many of my peers, was actively encouraged to attend, learn and engage in conversations that may not, at first glance, relate directly to my company’s work but, instead, are unequivocally linked to our values. 

The value I kept thinking about was inclusion. At CUNA Mutual Group, we believe you can’t have diversity without it. You can bring in all the different minds, cultures, backgrounds and ages you want; but, unless the people sharing them feel equally included, nothing will change. 

It’s our commitment to inclusion that sees people like our own Opal Tomashevska speaking at the YWCA Racial Justice Summit, not as a CUNA Mutual Group employee, but as a poet. An artist. A powerful woman with an incredible voice, whose words spoke into our souls and brought the room to its feet in applause. I encourage everyone to watch Opal's performance, at the 1 hour-42 minute mark (or the video clip above).

Another colleague, Angela Russell, also facilitated a panel and co-led a break out session called Transformational Leadership from Tolerance for Diversity to Deep Systems Change for Equity. 

For me, the conference was a space where I could walk in inclusion, be in inclusion and work in inclusion. I could me and fill my cup in inclusion. 

During the conference, I heard the phrase “Shared commitment means shared risk.” For me, that sums it up perfectly. It’s an honor to attend an event like this and I honestly wish every employee had thchance to as well. 

Because I was encouraged and empowered to take two days out of the office – to learn from and with community leaders and countless people I admire – I feel that I truly matter. Now I must hold up my side of the bargain and use what I learned to make space for others here at work.