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How To Focus on Belonging

What happens when great minds don’t think alike?

This is the question posed by global consultancy EY in one of three poignant videos about inclusion and belonging in the workplace.

“Sometimes I have to censor myself or mold myself or edit myself in some way to make myself more palatable to the world,” says Kyle, an autistic and non-binary trans woman who works at EY. While they’ve struggled throughout their lives to understand and be understood, they say that they feel accepted at work.

Part of the reason may be the company’s neurodiversity hiring program, which hires people on the autism spectrum. But the real work is in preparing managers and colleagues to better understand, and respect, minds, bodies, and experiences unlike their own.

Here’s just one example. EY has a unique set of trans and gender-related benefits, including coverage worth $25,000 for transition-related expenses not covered by insurance, and ongoing training for employees on trans inclusive practices, including specific guidelines and training for supporting people as they transition.

It seems to be working: The company has earned a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Annual Corporate Equality Index for 14 years in a row.

A commitment to belonging is the kind of long-term work that yields more productive teams, of course, but also the quiet contentment of the newly seen.

“One of the things that happens with autistic children is that their personhood is basically revoked,” explains Kyle. “I just want them to know that that’s not forever.”

If your organization is struggling with inclusion, check out EY’s helpful guide on how leaders at every level can master inclusive behavior and norms.

On Point

Mormon church to allow children of same-sex couples to be baptizedThis decision, announced today, is a reversal of a 2015 policy that barred children of same-sex parents from baptism and other church rituals. The same policy also said that church members living in same-sex marriages were subject to excommunication. “Effective immediately, children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be baptized without First presidency approval,” they said in a statement. While the church still considers LGBTQ marriages to be “a serious transgression,” they we want our members and our policies to be considerate of those struggling with the challenges of mortality.”New York Times

Questlove is in the meat-free cheesesteak business now
The drummer-dj-Tonight Show bandleader-writer and foodie is impossibly busy, yet, he decided to  make room for a new venture after he tasted  Impossible Foods‘ plant-based meat substitute. It was so good that the native Philadelphian is recreating a cruelty-free version of his city’s beloved sandwich and taking it on the road. Questlove Cheesesteaks will arrive at Phillies home stadium Citizens Bank Park this year and at 40 Live Nation venues around the country. Click through for a delicious Q&A with Fortune’s Dan Reilly.
The Fortune

No charges filed in a 2015 biker gang shoot-out that left nine people dead
The incident in a restaurant parking lot in Waco, Texas, shocked the nation, some 177 people were arrested at the scene. All faced serious criminal charges. And yet, all charges have been dismissed, a failure of prosecutors to focus their resources on the ringleaders. The newly elected district attorney blamed his predecessor. “In my opinion, had this action been taken in a timely manner, it would have, and should have, resulted in numerous convictions and prison sentences.” The shoot-out left nine people dead and 20 injured. It was just another deadly incident in decades-long animosities between the Bandidos and Cossacks, two primarily-white rival motorcycle gangs. According to the Department of Justice, the Bandidos has up to 2,500 members in 14 countries, with about 900 belonging to 93 chapters in the United States. 
New York Times

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a new, interim CEO
Karen Baynes Dunning, a former juvenile court judge and SPLC board member, has a long history of working on behalf of disadvantaged children and families; her new position as interim chief was a unanimous decision, the SPLC board said in a prepared statement. In the same statement, they announced that Tina Tchen of the TIME’S UP Legal Fund would be stepping in to help the organization assess their workplace culture and practices. The SPLC co-founder Morris Dees was fired from the organization last month, citing still unknown “personnel issues.”

On Background

When you’re black, you have to die for America to love you
Writer Steven Underwood pulls no punches in this wrenching essay, relevant once again after hip-hop entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle’s murder and on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. History tells the tale of black artists toiling in dead-end jobs to make ends meet, he writes, and many of the extraordinary voices of the Harlem Renaissance era lived in poverty and struggled with addiction and despair. “Black geniuses, like Zora Neale Hurston, went unvalued and drowned in debts,” he notes. “A woman so talented, yet so unfortunate that she died thinking her art form pigeonholed her to poverty’s void.” If the co-signature of a white producer or investor is what it takes to be seen as valid, then things will never improve, he says. “If we found half the nerve to support an artist without the backing of a white check, we could rebuild our narrative and build a new addition to the culture that can’t be stolen.” 

A slave cabin, once a home, is now a treasured artifact
Isabell Meggett Lucas, 87, grew up in a two-room wood house in Edisto Island, South Carolina, where she lived with her parents and nine brothers. The cabin was originally used to house enslaved people starting in 1853, but her family didn’t know that, she says. They never had electricity, a bathroom or running water, and yet, she says, the family thrived. The last remaining family member moved out in 1983 (you read that right) and the house has since been moved, piece by piece, to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.  The cabin is the only remaining home of a row of ten buildings owned by a an enslaver named Charles Bailey.

An abandoned town is a fading part of Great Migration history
Dearfield, CO is just a few run-down buildings now. But back in the day, starting in 1910, it was a thriving town of black homesteaders and farmers who defied Jim Crow odds to create wealth, culture and a place where black and white folks could co-exist with a rare bit of peace. “At its height in the early 1920s, 700 residents lived in town, with churches, a school, a blacksmith shop, a dance hall and a restaurant,” explains NPR.  A later iteration of the Homestead Act attracted black people who were interested in owning some land, explains a professor and local historian. The town’s most successful champion was a man named O.T. Jackson, a charismatic entrepreneur who looks a little like a long-lost Marsalis cousin, and who made sure that Dearfield didn’t fall prey to other post-Reconstruction woes. A wonderful bit of history that deserves to be preserved.



What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.
—Temple Grandin