PwC
By Ellen McGirt
September 1, 2017

Fortune’s Include U Challenge for September 1:

Today, take a breath and “check yourself at the door” before having a difficult conversation.

Instructor: Tim Ryan, U.S. chairman of PwC #IncludeU30

“In my experience, creating a diverse and inclusive community starts with having active and often uncomfortable conversations about the experiences, fears, and perspectives of those who are different from us,” Ryan tells Fortune. The need for these uncomfortable conversations became even more clear after the 2016 police involved shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, followed by the ambush attack carried out by a disturbed veteran, killing five police officers in Dallas. “I knew I had to say something.”

What followed was an extraordinary firm-wide commitment to hosting these difficult conversations. The success of these efforts encouraged Ryan and 175 of his counterparts to launch the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™, which commits this country’s largest employers to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond. There are now more than 270 companies on board.

Today, Tim Ryan asks you to consider the struggles of others around you:

Having difficult conversations about race, diversity, and inclusion won’t do any good if you don’t come at it with openness, empathy and a willingness to really listen. To do this, we have to realize that struggle is not mutually exclusive. Put simply, everyone goes through struggles in life. And while some communities and people definitely experience more suffering than others, it is a common bond that unites us. So in order to really listen and show empathy, we have to put aside our own defensiveness and our own issues so we can truly acknowledge the struggle and pain of others.

I know this can be hard to do because who we are (race, gender, sexuality, etc.) is often shaped by the difficult experiences we, our families, and others like us have endured. But, only when we get over ourselves and stop being so defensive can we truly understand and have compassion for one another.

So my call to action is: Check yourself at the door — we can only make progress when we put our own issues to the side and really listen to what each other has to say.

 

Post your thoughts on today’s challenge on Twitter with #IncludeU30

 

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