Register Now for the April Gathering of A Human Workplace

Creating Cultures of Resilience: How and Why to Build Inclusive, Collective Spaces

Register today for April's gathering of A Human Workplace Olympia co-hosted by Justin Chan, DSHS DDA, EDI Administrator, who will guide us through an extended session to explore how and why we create resilient spaces. Join us April 26 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon in the Helen Sommers Building in Olympia.

Building on our work together in March, he will help us consider:

  • Why do we talk about inclusion, exclusion and microaggressions?

  • What systems and assumptions are in place to create microaggressions?

  • How do we shift power dynamics so that we create a loving environment that lifts all voices?

Last session we needed more time. And we acknowledge that the dominant system does not usually allow enough time for marginalized communities to have voice nor for others to adequately understand different experiences. This gathering is an effort at creating more time and space.

Register today for the April gathering of A Human Workplace Olympia!

Justin Chan is the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Administrator and Tribal Liaison. As a first generation Taiwanese American and a dedicated community leader, Justin sits on the Board of Directors for the Asian Pacific Islander Americans for Civic Empowerment c4 (APACE) and worked for the Department of Early Learning as the Interim Equity and Professional Development Administrator focused on racial equity and ECEAP, our state funded preschool program for three and four year-old children with low income.

He has worked along side leaders and communities, leading numerous racial equity action planning and “normalizing the conversation” training with staff and leadership. He has helped provide staff with the tools and knowledge so they can feel capable of planning, implementing, and tracking equity programs while engaging with diverse communities every step of the way.

This Community

Please remember that this meeting is an open, safe, and welcoming space for all! We want everyone to feel included in this conversation because we all have so much to learn from each other to make us more loving humans. Let's take another step together in our journey to eliminate fear and help each other be the best coworkers we can be!

Register today to reserve your seat for this gathering. When you register, your email will be added to the mailing list for A Human Workplace.

We welcome all participants; please contact us to request accommodations. Email Renee.Smith@gov.wa.gov with your specific needs. Thank you and we look forward to you joining us.

What we learned about microaggressions, advocacy, and allyship

This was written in collaboration with Ayanna Colman and Jeannie Macnab.

On Friday, March 22nd at A Human Workplace Olympia, state employees and guests came together to discuss the topic of microaggressions and how they can easily show up in the workplace.

We began with a “Freaky Friday” exercise to explore how someone else might feel in common workplace situations that could be potentially challenging based on one’s marginalized identities or intersectionality. This exercise was based on real people and scenarios.  With 60,00 people in State government, any of these scenarios are possible throughout state agencies.  Imagining ourselves in someone else’s shoes taps into our natural empathy. It also provides an opportunity to consider how to be a supportive presence for someone who may need an ally.

We talked about how to identify moments of isolation, which can create fear, and then ideas for how to respond in these situations. Our presenter, Ayanna Colman of Results Washington, walked us through a deconstructed definition of microaggressions, their impacts on us as a community, and shared the perspective that maybe it’s time to become “accomplices” (people who take action) rather than simply “allies” (taking a position with little to no risk of personal impact).

It was noted that the impact of microaggressions include:

·         Reinforcement of “othering”

·         Establishment of privileges where the microaggressor feels safe because there are no consequences

·         Personally damage to the self-image of the recipient

·         Professionally demoralizing

·         Institutionally destructive - not addressing microaggressions creates fear and toxicity

There is ample research demonstrating that people of color and women, particularly women of color, experience discriminatory language and practices at work. And it was noted by Ayanna that men can also experience microaggressions known as misandry.

As a group, we openly discussed various workplace scenarios and debated whether they were microaggressions. We discussed whether and how we would take action to create a more loving space for employees who may feel targeted by others based on characteristics beyond their control. It was clear from both the scenarios and the discussion that there are multiple interpretations of any situation and that microaggressions are often subtle.  Different perspectives were expressed, which was at times uncomfortable, but the environment was respectful and safe as we learned together.

Some ideas for what we can do:

·         It is important to get curious and ask questions. 

·         If someone makes a comment that sounds like a microaggression, ask them what they mean. 

·         Try to find out more information and be prepared to step up and let them know if you or others are offended by what they said.

·         Be willing to step up and offer support and explain why you are doing so.  

·         Ask the person you are talking to if they are willing to learning more?

·         This resource can help you learn about diversity and how to be an ally (or an accomplice!) in the workplace: http://diverseeducation.com/

This workshop was just a beginning. There was widespread agreement on the need for more time to explore, share, listen, and learn. One feature of a dominant culture is “hurrying” and not giving ample time to explore and understand the experiences of marginalized communities. So we want to invest more time to listen and learn.

We will continue the discussion, exploration, and learning in April when Justin Chan, DSHS DDA EDI Administrator will co-host A Human Workplace Olympia on April 26, and further still in May, more details to come on that.