Design for Belonging


November 17, 2021

Episode Description

Over the past several months, we’ve all been wondering what the new normal will look like. One thing is for sure: the old way of doing things isn’t going to fly any longer. Our society is seeking new alternatives to create more equitable, diverse, and flexible work environments so that we can live amongst each other more comfortably, while prioritizing deep inclusion. In this episode of IncludrPod, Jeffrey sits down with Susie Wise, a leader, coach, educator and designer at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, also known as Susie is the mastermind behind Design for Belonging, a framework that supports building greater belonging and reducing “othering” in communities. During the episode, Jeffrey and Susie discuss the changing nature of the workplace today, and how we can design working environments that are more inclusive, empathetic and functional for our fast-paced modern lives.

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Headshot of guest, Susie Wise
Susie Wise, Guest

Susie is a leader, coach, educator and designer at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, also known as She holds a PhD in Learning Sciences and Technology Design from Stanford’s School of Education. Susie is the mastermind behind Design for Belonging, a framework that supports building greater belonging and reducing “othering” in communities.

Susie is a leader, coach, educator and designer at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, also known as She holds a PhD in Learning Sciences and Technology Design from Stanford’s School of Education. Susie is the mastermind behind Design for Belonging, a framework that supports building greater belonging and reducing “othering” in communities.

Headshot of host Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman
Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Host

Actor and advocate for diversity and inclusion, particularly for people of color and the LGBTQ community.

Actor and advocate for diversity and inclusion, particularly for people of color and the LGBTQ community.

Episode Transcript

While IncludrPod is audio-based content, we’ve also transcribed each episode so everyone can enjoy the series. If you can choose, we recommend listening to the audio, which may include emotion and emphasis that cannot be captured on a page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Jeffrey This is IncludrPod, a podcast that explores inclusivity, diversity and how to find common ground with just about anyone all through a scientific lens. I’m your host Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman. I’m an actor, podcaster, model and guest judge on the hit TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race. As a Black queer man, I know firsthand that with deep inclusion and acceptance from others. I can show up not only as my best self but as my whole self. Creating a safe space is the foundation of authenticity. And everyone is welcome here. Welcome to the IncludrPod.

Speaker 1 There have definitely been times in my career where I’ve felt like the odd one out, just by the nature of the industry being male dominated or being one of the only women on the team. 

Speaker 2 Me, when I used to work for this company but my boss would take a lot of credit for my work and would hardly give any feedback. It really affected my self-esteem and made me feel that I don’t belong to the success of that company. 

Speaker 3 So when it comes to your work environment, you’re really looking for a feeling of being wanted, needed being important. 

Speaker 4 Personally for me, working with people from different backgrounds and with different experiences and working styles has given me another perspective. Diverse views make for better decisions and in my personal experience, drive a high performing culture. 

Jeffrey The pandemic drastically changed the way we relate to one another, especially in the workplace. Over the past several months, we’ve all been wondering what a post-COVID return to work could look like and what the new normal will be once the dust settles. One thing’s for sure the old way of doing things isn’t going to fly any longer. Our society is seeking new alternatives to create more diverse, inclusive and flexible work environments so we can live among each other more comfortably while prioritizing mental wellness. Today’s guest is Susie Wise, a leader, coach, educator and designer at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. Also known as She holds a Ph.D. in learning sciences and technology design from Stanford School of Education. Susie is the mastermind behind Design for Belonging, a framework that supports building greater belonging and reducing othering in communities and her practice centers on inspiring teams to use empathy to achieve innovative outcomes. We’re sitting down to discuss the changing nature of the workplace today and how we can create working environments that are more inclusive, empathetic and functional for our fast-paced modern lives. To kick it off, can you share a bit about your background in your career so far? 

Susie I was supposed to be in politics. I worked on the hill every summer during college and then at the last minute I was like, oh, all those boys in blue blazers. So I didn’t do that. I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area after college, kind of without really a plan other than to try and dig in, maybe to education. I ended up working across a number of organizations that went into schools. And I found that I loved that. Following that interest in kids and their learning led me into game design. And I worked in the early days of what we are now called EdTech. At the time, it was called Edutainment, so it was making games for kids for learning. And I’ve kind of continued always on the thread of how do people learn and what makes interesting learning environments. I’ve worked in museums and tech and then landed in graduate school to do a doctorate in learning sciences and technology design. And that happened at the time when right when the kind of long standing tradition of human centered design at the was being formed into this Institute of Design to work across different kinds of disciplines. And that led me to start the being kind of associated with the early days of the I had the opportunity to found and lead the K-12 labs to bring design thinking into schools. And that kind of solidified my interest in how do you change cultures and how do you think about how people feel and the different cultures that they’re a part of. And so I’ve continued to do that work. Working at the intersection of design and racial equity and more explicitly. Now working around the intersection of design and belonging. 

Jeffrey Wow. Well, speaking of culture, a word that’s gained a lot of prominence in the zeitgeist as of late, is othering or otherness or others. What is othering exactly? And how do we see this concept playing out in the macrocosm of society at large and more specifically in the microcosm of the workplace? 

Susie Sure. I like to think of actually the pair of othering and belonging. And so othering is exactly that, being made to feel less than. Right that somehow some part of you or how you’re showing up is not accepted rather. That part of you that is not accepted and in any environment, right. It could be a workplace could be learning environment. So othering is being made to feel like who you are. What you bring to the table isn’t really needed, wanted, sought after. And so when we start to think about belonging, that’s about how do you get to show up and be you and make the contributions that you can uniquely make. And that becomes really important when you think about work environments. 

Jeffrey Yeah. So what is your perspective on the relationship between workplace environments, workplace design and belonging or inclusion? How do the two intersect and directly affect one another? 

Susie From a belonging perspective, the feelings of belonging that you might be able to have while you’re working help you be your best self. They help you learn. They help you grow. They help you contribute. So it ultimately really matters for workplaces to foster a sense of bringing out the best in everybody and letting folks show up and that what belonging looks like then can take a lot of different forms. 

Jeffrey Yeah, it’s so interesting that you’re saying, you know, having the ability to bring our best self. I think that something that I’m so aware of as a Black queer man is not being able to only bring my best self but being able to bring my whole self. And the importance of that.

Susie Yeah. I love that. That’s a really important reframe, I think, and this work is all those pieces of you. And I think when we think of kind of some classical structures and workplaces, they’re often very narrowly about like who you are to do this particular role or job or task. And what we recognize when we start to think about inclusion and belonging is that you actually want to be able to bring that bringing your whole self is about bringing more parts of yourself. And they don’t all show up all the time in every context but you want that kind of freedom to tap into that because those are often great parts of yourself that you need to feel like you’re contributing to feel like you’re whole. That matters for who you get to be. 

Jeffrey Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, having the foundation of a safe environment is that which fosters a space in which I feel free and I feel safe enough to bring my whole self because personally, I have experienced a lot of failures in my life and in my career but it’s been through those failures and those experiences from being able to bring my whole self that I’ve learned the most.

Susie That source of your whole self is actually the source of your creativity. Right? Your inspiration. Your ability to collaborate. Those things that we know especially continuing into the future, right, really matter in our work. If you’re not able to tap into all of yourself and be yourself to show up as your whole self, right, you lose out on all the important parts. And that matters for you as an individual but it also matters for the group or the team or the organization. 

Jeffrey Right? Yeah. Well, I think that as the group of humans on this planet, as a culture, as a society, I think that we’ve all come a long way in regards to the recognition of exclusive practices in our society, all things considered. In your opinion, how have working environments evolved over the years and what are some of the major changes you’ve seen recently? 

Susie Yeah. So I want to say that I’m not an expert in the history of workplaces. But I will say from this perspective of kind of right now, 2021. A new phase of racial reckoning in our culture at large, right? All of those things again, because we spend so much time at work, right? All of those things are intersecting our work now in ways that want to be grappled with. Otherwise, people are left having to leave part of themselves at home and that’s not something that you necessarily want. One of the things I think the power of thinking about the role that design can play in workplaces is that we can open up kind of the levers that we have to play with to help people show up as their whole selves in these moments. That looks like how we recognize now the role that space plays or roles or ritual like these are things that we can start to open up to as really interesting things to use and explore to help people show up at work. 

Jeffrey Right? I’ve heard you use the phrase equity design. What is that exactly? And how does it play into the creation of a more accepting and equitable society? 

Susie Yeah. So one thing I want to say there is there’s a great I’m actually going to just like use our definition. I work within a collaborative that we call the equity design collaborative. These are people across the country that are really thinking about equity design. And we actually put it out there on a website so that we could, you know, kind of rally around this definition. So I’m just going to share it fully. So equity design is a creative process to dismantle systems of oppression and redesign towards liberation and healing by centering the power of communities historically impacted by the oppressive systems that we’re trying to redesign. So this is a the equity design is a call to understand that we are always working in designed environments, whether that’s literally a workplace or just our town, our city, our community. There are so many things that are designed. And they haven’t been historically designed for equity. They haven’t been designed to include everyone. Most of our systems have been designed to privilege the wealthy, the whites, the able-bodied, right, and equity design says we need to disrupt that. 

Jeffrey Well, speaking of something that has affected everyone. Few things have happened in our lifetime that have affected us as a culture, as a species, as these past two years with the global pandemic. It’s radically and undeniably changed the way we work and interact with one another. What are some of the major impacts you’ve seen over the past two years from a design perspective? 

Susie The obvious one, right? You and I are right here meeting on Zoom. Right. So we’re not going to offices or other kinds of collaborative spaces. We’re in our own spaces. We’re, you know, meeting more and more using technology. And while that can be really powerful, I think one of the things that this time has pushed us to think about is how do we continue to be in our bodies and not just on our screens. It’s also given this tremendous and you’ve seen different kinds of places respond to this differently but there is actually a way in which we were able to bring more of ourselves. The dog runs through, the child is crying. You got to get off because your fourth grader doesn’t know how to do Zoom or got kicked out of their Zoom session or whatever. And so those kinds of things really do bring a humanity if we’re doing the work to acknowledge that. I think what it does and this is important from the kind of the lens of design is it lets us say we need to be intentional. Part of what design is is actually being intentional to say, we can structure our time differently. We used to have our long meetings. Let’s have forty five minute meetings and everybody goes outside after that or we take breaks to cook at a different time. Any number of things can actually, it gives us that opportunity if we take it up to be more human. 

Jeffrey Right. It’s an invitation into vulnerability. It’s an invitation into your humanity. I mean, sitting here with you, where are you in the world right now? 

Susie I’m in Oakland, California. 

Jeffrey Oh, you’re in Oakland and I’m in Los Angeles, just a little stone’s throw down the road. But I’m right now. I’m, you know, I’m invited into your home. I’m seeing this fascinating wall of purses and bags behind you that I’m sure tell a thousand different stories of who you are and where you came from and the journeys you’ve had along your life’s path. You know, being here in my home, you can see different pieces of artwork that are done by different friends. I feel like it just brings in this level of humanity and vulnerability. It you know, it opens the door to see each other in a different light. 

Susie Yeah. And you have to take up that vulnerability, right? We have to have enough some kind of relationship or some ground rules that have been explicitly created to say, hey, ask me about the things that you see. Because the invitation is there but if we don’t take it up, right, then we haven’t actually engaged in that vulnerability. And we haven’t, we haven’t taken the moment to humanize. 

Jeffrey In regards to going back to the workplace in the near future, different companies and corporations are going to be going about returning to the workforce in a multitude of different ways. Speaking of one example of like the Google style open workplace. I don’t think there’s any one right model of how we can go back and return to the world. But how do you feel about that type of model? Do you think it’s beneficial? 

Susie I think a lot of things. I think space is a tool to play with. So I think the most important thing when thinking about like the going back to a workplace is how do we want to use our space and what are we trying to use it as a container for. Right. We’ve recognized that we don’t have to do necessarily it, at least in some industries, we don’t have to do all of our work in collective spaces. But why do we want to come together and when and for what purpose? Those then become the questions to ask. What is the role of coming together in spaces and how do we use it to actually, as we’ve been talking about, bring more of who we are? So maybe we come together for special kinds of meetings or working sessions or meals or collaborative time. We get to think about those questions of design for belonging. What are the feelings that we’re trying to create? Belonging reminds you that what you’re going for is a feeling. That you want to feel that you belong not that you are othered. That you want to feel that you can contribute. Do you want to feel that you can actually dissent, that you can raise issues or make demands. These are some of the things related to belonging that I think we really want to be looking towards. And when we think about the idea of going back to work, we can be really clear about like, how are we using that time to build that? I think the power of this moment is that big picture like kind of as a society, we recognize that some of the things that we thought were fixed aren’t and that opens us up to design. 

Jeffrey You keep going back to that word feel and the feelings, the importance of feelings, which I think is something that has been, you know, classically ignored when it comes to corporate and workplace environments. It really is about putting your feelings aside and strictly focusing on the work that’s directly in front of you. In a society today, there’s often an invisible power structure at play that makes us feel like we can’t do so. 

Susie So I think one of the things that we can think about at right at this intersection with the role of feelings helps us to remember that the way that we create this is not just by policies. That there are these intermediary things like role, ritual ways of coming together, small group meetings, right? All these kind of things that are not policies, not law but are the cultural things that we do together. Those are actually the things that send us the signals about how we can behave together. Culture is not the thing that happens in the offsite meeting. That’s specifically about culture. Culture are the small things that happen every day, right? The ways that we behave with one another. And so the work of design is to say, what are the moments that feel crappy in this work environment? And let’s be honest about that. And that’s where leaders that have positional power have a really important role to play. They sometimes are the only ones that can ask the questions. Leaders have to ask the questions about what are the moments that aren’t working. And then we have to look at, therefore, what should we design? We take a look at how people are onboarded, how people are reviewed, how people come together to collaborate, which of those isn’t working and we pick up one of those then that’s an object to design. 

Jeffrey What you’re saying is so important about leadership. I think that’s two trains of thought. The leadership starts from the top or the fish stinks from the head. When it comes to leadership and people in positions of power being the ones who are responsible for spearheading these conversations for, you know, holding safe spaces and asking the right questions, I feel the thing that gets in the way of personal change or change at large is so often people don’t even have the language in corporate settings. I’m just so curious to know how you think that we can go about it in a way that people in positions of power can gain the tools and the skills and the language to facilitate these conversations. 

Susie When I think about this. And so if we think about it from a leadership perspective, and of course, I don’t think that it’s only people with positional authority that our leaders, right, there are all kinds of leaders in a given workplace. And so some of it is, can everybody get empowered to think like a designer. Which is to say not everything is fixed. We can make change. We do that by actually leaning into our feelings of like, Oh, that’s the thing that didn’t feel good. And to paying attention to what feels good for whom, when and where. And are there any patterns related to that too? How is this bad feeling situated and what kind of a moment is it? Is it about how people come in? Is it about how people show up to do their work? Is it about how people are and are not able to make a contribution? Whatever kind of moment it is, I think that is a kind of language that leaders, teammates kind of wherever you’re situated can be brought into. Like, that’s some of the empowerment that we can bring in from design of recognizing that this is not magic. And it’s not. And we already recognize that some of the inherited ways we’ve been working actually don’t work right. They only separate people and perpetuate hierarchies and continue white supremacy. Right? So we’re ready to get rid of those. So what we have to dig into is where we are. So the way I approach it is pick the moments that matter. Dig into those. Generate new ideas and try some ways to get at that. And the power of the hack. That small, scrappy experiment is that you’re not sitting in a room trying to come up with ideas and rolling out some $5 million new way to do things. You’re trying something new in the next meeting. You’re trying a new way to start a meeting and you’re seeing after the fact. Did that work for people? Did that feel better? And that’s where you can then ask and what skills need to be built to support these new ways of working? 

Jeffrey Susie had some great insights about belonging and inclusivity in the workplace. One point that really stood out to me had to do with this idea of feeling comfortable while showing up as your whole self at work. Susie mentioned that your whole self is the source of all creativity and collaboration which means that when given the space and the freedom to be ourselves, we can truly soar. I can definitely attest to this and I know many others who are listening can relate, especially those working in creative fields. When we feel included and accepted, the potential for success is unlimited. But how can we create a more accepting environment at work when it sometimes feels like the odds are stacked against us? Susie offered more advice and insights on cultivating a more inclusive workforce. What is the role of storytelling in creating a more inclusive society? And how can we leverage it to our advantage in individual workplaces? 

Susie Yeah, beautiful. One of the things that I just want to call out is this difference between the technical and the relational. Right? And some of the context where I work we talk about it above and below the green line. And the technical for whatever historical reasons is so often the way workplaces are oriented. And the relational piece is actually what allows you to belong, right, because that’s the place of feelings. And so storytelling and play, I would say is another big, big piece. But storytelling is this powerful way to be you, to share about yourself, and to invite people in. So stories unlock your ability to be you. 

Jeffrey Absolutely. The excavation of self. You said something so interesting. It’s, you know, the importance of play and something that I’ve learned from Brené Brown is that the opposite of work is play. How do we go about normalizing inclusive heroes in our storytelling so everyone can feel like they’re a part of the narrative and see reflections of themselves as the hero and the protagonist, especially as historically marginalized individuals? As a kid growing up when playing video games, I never got to choose anyone who looked like me that was the hero. If I were to ever play a Black male character, it would likely be in a game like Grand Theft Auto where it’s a Black man that’s recently escaped from prison and is shooting police officers. You know, like it’s not, it wasn’t a positive reflection of people who looked like me. I couldn’t relate to that character. You know, I’ve recently picked up video games again over the pandemic and purchased a PlayStation 5 and I’ve been playing the new, the latest version of Spider-Man, where the lead character is Miles Morales. A young Black teen hero and there’s something so powerful about that. And in fact, when I first started playing in the game, the tears were brought to my eyes thinking of the impact this is going to have on all of the millions of young not only Black children and other children of color out there in the world but for white kids to be able to pick up their controllers and to be able to play a Black man as the hero. I think it will change. It will shift perspective.  

Susie Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean it. And that’s the the real truth of it, right? White supremacy doesn’t just harm people of color. White supremacy harms everyone and it’s back to then what it does is slot people into only certain kinds of roles. And I think we are moving in a direction that also helps people recognize that everyone has multiple identities. I mean, it’s back to kind of where we started this notion of how do you show up as your whole self. Your whole self isn’t just like a bigger you, it’s actually the multiple parts of you. Right, exactly. And that that really matters. And so cultural production has a huge role to play as does kind of corporate leadership structures right to show, to both humanize show people in all their dimensions and also to continue to work to diversify leadership roles, et cetera because it does representation really, really matters. And we’re, we’re not that far into exploring all the things that that can mean. So I think storytelling play, I’m hopeful that we might enter a phase where we’re actually just more creative there, where we’re trying out lots of different ways that people can show up. 

Jeffrey Yeah, I’m just I’m curious to know from a practical perspective, how can both employers, we as individuals and we as a society build more inclusive, empathetic workplaces and a sense of belonging among employees? 

Susie Yeah. So so part of the way I think about this notion of designing for belonging is on the design side. So we already talked about the feeling that we’re going for. The ultimate outcome that we want is for individuals and the group to really be activating belonging. But the design part of it is how can we open up our toolkit in lots of environments like email is the default design tool. Where we’ll just send an email and say the thing, right? Well, there’s so many more things you can design with, right? We talked a little bit about using space. I think ritual is a really powerful other thing to remember and it’s a way to design an experience, however small. It might be a five minute opener that you do together to bring it so that everyone’s voice is heard at the beginning of a meeting. Something as small as that, if you do it with intentionality could actually really set the tone. Right? And that is the power of design is to create with intention and knowing that what you’re caring about is like, have we promoted inclusion and belonging with that even small five minute thing that we do. 

Jeffrey You know, it’s so funny when you say this. I think it just makes my mind go to the toxicity of the patriarchy because everything that you’re saying seems to be very female minded. Many times when I’ve had female leaders in the workplace, whether it’s back in the day when I was working as a as a waiter. When I had a female manager or a female principal at school or a female producer or director on set, there’s much more intent and much more focus on creating a safe space so that we’re able to vulnerably and authentically share those parts of ourselves. I think there’s real, there’s real importance in what you’re saying about ritual. What are some of the physical characteristics we might see in an inclusive workplace? 

Susie So when you say that, it’s interesting, the thing that pops through me first is on the visual plane, right? In an inclusive environment because we take so many cues from the visual. And so one piece of that is what are the stories that are being portrayed? What’s the representations that we’re seeing? Are we seeing the full range of images of our clients, of the people that we serve of the employees? Are we really seeing that and not in a token way but rather in a way that shows us what matters about our work together. It really matters for a human workplace is what’s your connection to the outdoors? Because that kind of stands in for a connection to your body, to our earth, to like, you know, you’re here on Earth, ready to do something, not just to send that email or to file that report. And so ways that you get to connect like your own center and what’s bigger that matters to you. I think if we see signs of that in workplaces it’s it’s really a powerful signal that we’re valuing people and their contributions. And that is right. That is really a definition of inclusion and valuing people and their contributions. 

Jeffrey Right. So speaking of valuing people as individuals and their contributions, what are some of the key differences between workspace design for women, workspace design for men, workspace design for non-binary genders? I think there are a lot of blind spots that have not been considered historically. 

Susie Yeah, I mean, I think thinking about those as blind spots is really the place to start, right? And to inquire about that. Remembering, too, that not only women while only women pump breast milk, men are also parenting right, and non-binary people are also parenting. And so some of the roles to like to be you and to get to show up right as you. I think that helps us to break out of some of the binaries related to gender is really important. 

Jeffrey You know, we all have different working styles based on our gender or personality or background or religions, et cetera. I think it’s very obvious that traditional workspaces have been designed and geared towards cisgender white males historically. How can we begin to disrupt that pattern? 

Susie Yeah. Well, one of the ways that I really think about that is through storytelling, right? How are we showing up and sharing who we are? Because that is the opening right to being able to design for greater inclusion. And that’s not just that’s not just the role of the individual, right? You’re not like showing up to be like here I am, and I need X, Y and Z, right? That’s not going to be comfortable in all contexts. So what it’s actually the culture of an organization and there we go back to leadership again. And the culture of leadership to really be showing how the range of diversity that is present and not making anybody play a singular role because we all have multiple parts to our identity. So some of the work that we do with people is actually just taking time to identify many aspects of your identity and talking about which ones are comfortable to show here and which ones aren’t and which ones are projected upon you and which ones remain more invisible. And what are the experiences of that? Like these are things that we can talk about. And design then comes from that right? Because that’s part of where you uncover like, wow, that aspect of somebody whose identity is never showing up for them and it wants to. They want it to that matters. And then you can start to figure out, well, how can we do more to support that? 

Jeffrey That’s so beautiful. What’s next for the world and the future of workplace design? How do you foresee this space continuing to change as we rebuild society post-pandemic? 

Susie Woohoo, big question in 30 seconds or less. I mean, I think we’re on a trajectory. I think the universe has served off this intersection of kind of recognizing more how many parts of our identity need to be able to show up with work with a time of pulling people away from their traditional kind of go to work workplaces. And those two things in conjunction, I think, opened us up to ask the question and really prime us for design. Things don’t have to be the way they have been, right? And so the real push is to lean in now to hear people’s stories, understand the range of identities that people are bringing to work. And then do that design, that redesign, really work, inviting people to show up as their whole selves and not just inviting them in but doing the work to actually support that in those other moments of belonging that matter. That moment of really contributing to a project of raising a concern or feedback of even thinking about, wow, my path needs to be different than what this organization is offering for me. What does it look like for me to leave, right? What does that look like for me? And what does that look like for the whole culture? And how do we continue to learn? So I think there’s a huge opportunity since we have this chance to create change to use it for learning. But the work to do in this moment is to really turn our organizations into human centered learning organizations where the work of equity and inclusion is raised as paramount. And then we let ourselves be vulnerable enough to learn into what’s really required to make the changes we want to see. 

Jeffrey Susie, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and have this conversation with me. I feel like I’ve taken so much away from everything that you have imparted. I think that, you know, recognizing the importance of shifting the way that we’ve been operating in all aspects of our lives but specifically with workplace and workspace design. It’s just we’re starting to gather these tools that are going to help us shape a new path to being and belonging. And I think there’s nothing more important than having focus on that at this point in time. So thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself with me today. It’s been a pleasure. 

Susie Thank you so much. It was really great to talk with you. 

Jeffrey My conversation with Susie brought up so many inspiring tidbits about how we can create a more inclusive and accepting society specifically in the workplace. Here are my key takeaways from the episode. Allowing the space and freedom for people to show up as their true selves can provide the foundation for rich creativity, collaboration and incredible achievement. If we hope to succeed in any industry, we all need to support one another. Helping others feel like they belong in the workplace is the first step towards creating a more equitable society and accomplishing more together. Company culture is more about the little things than it is about the big things. In other words, holding a monthly meeting about company culture with high level executives just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Creating a positive and accepting corporate culture is about cultivating little moments, like asking staff about their children, lending an empathetic ear and overall encouraging an open and honest dialog. So employees feel like they can contribute or ask questions without being judged. We should all think like designers even if that’s not our official job title. Although many aspects of our society may seem fixed and solid. Everything is fluid and ever changing. We have the power to redesign things that aren’t working especially in our working environments. Susie recommends leaning into your feelings, identifying blind spots and being fully honest with yourself and others to unlock your ability to be, well, you. Thanks for listening to IncludrPod, the podcast exploring inclusivity, diversity and empathy so we can all be kinder to one another. If you like what you heard, make sure to subscribe, rate and review the show wherever you get your podcasts. For more info, blog posts, shownotes and more visit This season of IncludrPod was made possible by The Andrew Nikou Foundation. And a special shout out to our team of amazing producers who helped bring the IncludrPod to life, including Jules Ho, Elle Carlos, Britney Nguyen, Stephanie Andrews, Mackenzie Patterson and Stacey Orth. Stay tuned for our next episode. I’m your host, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman. See you next time. 

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Equity Safety Self-care
Radical self-care as DEIB in the workplace

Disrupt systemic inequities that strip people from being their authentic selves at work.

Equity Gender
Advancing gender equity at work, from bias to paychecks

Four strategies to advance gender equity at work.