Gillian Blease—Getty Images/Ikon Images
By Ellen McGirt
August 31, 2017

Here’s the funny thing about the quest to become a more inclusive leader: You can’t “include” what you just don’t see. You have to make an effort to understand the world and yourself differently.

This is also the essential challenge facing the inclusive organization. To help employees better understand the lives of others, smart companies offer catalyst experiences – bias mitigation, candid town halls, cross-cultural mentorship programs, etc – all purposefully designed to help break down barriers, develop new listening skills and reveal what was once overlooked. Teams generate better ideas. Customers stick around. And employees feel seen. We report on these efforts often, and they can be extremely powerful.

But shouldn’t we few, we happy few, we band of believers, also be designing these catalyst experiences for ourselves?

This is the big idea behind the Include U Challenge, a fun new raceAhead production that I hope will help give our inclusion muscles a workout in small, daily ways.

To get us started, I decided to get a little help from our friends.

Every day in September, I’ll be asking an extraordinary person who truly knows inclusion and creativity – some high profile, some who deserve to be – to suggest a single action that someone can take that day that will help them become more open, curious, and empathetic.

We’ve got a diverse line-up — Fortune CEOs, artists, activists, educators, entrepreneurs — and I’m working on a couple of cool surprises, too. The entire list will appear below.

Think of it as a crowd-sourced leadership practice designed to help you master the fine art of being human.

Play along on your social feeds, and post your successes — along with suggestions of your own — using the #IncludeU30 hashtag.

The beauty of this: You can repeat the crowd-sourced Include U curriculum, in whole or in part, as often as you like. It will always help you grow.

 

Challenge 1, Tim Ryan, PwC: “Check yourself at the door” before having a difficult conversation

Challenge 2, Luvvie Ajayi, author: Do something that scares you today

Challenge 3, Bernard J. Tyson, Kaiser Permanente: Appreciate someone and mean it

Challenge 4, Hugh Weber, CEO, community builder: Ask a stranger to curate your reading list

Challenge 5, Daniel José Older, YA author: Close your eyes and listen to the world

Challenge 6, Xian Horn, teacher, disability activist: Serve someone without expectation

Challenge 7, Anjuan Simmons, technologist, speaker, inclusion evangelist: Lend your privilege

Challenge 8, Kevin Johnson, CEO Starbucks: Get vulnerable in your next conversation

Challenge 9, Julie Sweet, CEO Accenture, North America: Who have you helped today?

Challenge 10, Eve Ewing, sociologist, educator, poet: Read “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

 

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