Allyship in Action: Concrete Strategies for Impact with Jennifer and JBC Senior Consultant Dr. Jennifer Sarrett

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This episode features a conversation between Jennifer and JBC Senior Consultant Dr. Jennifer Sarrett as they discuss allyship and the important role that each of us can play as allies to underrepresented and marginalized communities. Discover some of the most common misconceptions about allyship and how to be an effective ally. You’ll hear about the danger of allies centering themselves over marginalized community members and what to do instead.

Listen in now, or read on for the transcript of our conversation:

JENNIFER BROWN: We all make mistakes. We are going to continue to make mistakes. That's just part of life. We're all humans. The more you check your privilege, the more you understand your privilege, the more you are continuing to learn about other groups, and the more you are building and cultivating your sense of humility, the easier it gets, that guilt. You're able to say, "That's not about me. This is about this other person," right? I fear that when people first are given kind of criticism or feedback about a mistake they made, it might shut people down and stop them from being an ally and put them back into that world of being a bystander.

DOUG FORESTA: Addressing systemic inequities has become a defining challenge of our times. Leaders' understanding of their role and responsibility to others and to society is being questioned. On October 4th, Jennifer Brown will release the second edition of her bestselling book, How to Be an Inclusive Leader. She will share insights from over 20 years of experience working with organizations to create workplaces where everyone thrives and belongs. Her widely acclaimed Inclusive Leader Continuum provides a framework to lead individuals through the personal learning journey they undertake to become inclusive leaders.

New stories, strategies, and discussion guides equip leaders at any level to take action and step into their role in affecting change. Whether you're already a fan of the book, a reader who considers themselves an advocate for equity and inclusion, or just starting to understand how uneven the playing field is, this book is a must read and essential tool for leading into the future. Visit to pre-order your own copy or access special bulk rates.


The Will To Change is hosted by Jennifer Brown. Jennifer is an award-winning entrepreneur dynamic speaker, bestselling author, and leadership expert on how organizations must evolve their cultures towards a new, more inclusive workplace reality. She's a passionate inclusion and equity advocate committed to helping leaders foster healthier and therefore more productive workplaces, ultimately driving innovation and business results informed by nearly two decades of consulting to Fortune 500 companies. She and her team advise top companies on building cultures of belonging in times of great upheaval and uncertainty. And now onto the episode.

DOUG FORESTA: Hello and welcome back to The Will To Change. This is Doug Foresta. And in this special minisode, which is recorded ahead of the release of the second edition of Jennifer's book, How to Be an Inclusive Leader, which comes out on October 4th, Jennifer sits down with Jennifer Sarrett, senior consultant at Jennifer Brown Consulting, as they talk about allyship, the important role each of us can play as allies to underrepresented and marginalized communities and where to get started if you want to start and become an ally and where to get started if you want to step into the role of an ally. All this and more, and now onto the conversation.

JENNIFER SARRETT: Hi, everyone. I'm Jennifer Sarrett. I use she/her/her pronouns, and I'm here as a senior consultant with Jennifer Brown, having a conversation with Jennifer Brown about allyship and the context of the new book coming out on October 4th. I'm really excited to be engaging in this conversation. I really want to start by thinking about in the new edition of How to Be an Inclusive Leader, Jennifer, you talk a lot about allyship and the important role each of us can play as allies to underrepresented and marginalized communities. If someone wants to step into the role of an ally, where do you think that they should get started?

JENNIFER BROWN: Thanks, Jen. It's such a pleasure to have this conversation with you and I am interested in your answers to these questions, so I will give over to you in a moment. I mean, I think that we start by doing an inventory of all the things we don't know, all the things we haven't been told or taught, all the gaps in our knowledge of other lived experiences. The way I do that is through study. I listen. I read. I gather information. I assess my network and the diversity within my network of people that I spend time with, right? My friends, my colleagues.

Yes, it is a bit of a checklist because I'm aware of my own identities and the allyship that has been given to me as a LGBTQ+ cisgender female and my pronouns are she/her. But there's so much opportunity for me to be an aspiring ally for all of these other lived experiences that I don't hold. I think that piece is the first part, and then doing our work around our own biases and how we're showing up. Perhaps we are quietly supporting. Perhaps we're very passive. I think allyship is proactive. Allyship is also assessing, how often do I step in? How often do I take action or initiate conversations?

We can be well-intended and we can hold certain beliefs about equality and equity. And that's great. I would rather have that than not have that. But in the Inclusive Leader Continuum that's in the book, it encourages us to move from awareness, which is phase two, to active, which is phase three. To me, activating around the knowledge that we're gathering is really where the rubber hits the road. That's where we begin to get comfortable, being uncomfortable with exercising a muscle that is new for a lot of us. That allyship muscle is very new, but it is important to practice it because that's how we strengthen it.

That's how we grow our competency, our capability, our confidence. And that active is the practice, if you will. So important to know that our allyship is aspirational and we're only allies when someone in an affected community calls us an ally. This is not for us to kind of name ourselves in this way. Really the only communication that matters is one that is received, right? I always think too about ally according to whom and the striving towards that, and then the need to get feedback on what is the impact of my intended allyship? Is it landing? Is it making a difference?

How could I reassess it or do it differently so that it has the impact that is needed? Not necessarily the impact that I intend, but I think we do have to flip this and every time check and calibrate on the impact that's being experienced. Jen, what would your answer be to this? I'm so curious, because I learned so much from you on this topic as well.

JENNIFER SARRETT: Thank you. Yeah, I agree with everything. I think learning never ends. I say this time. I always say there's no end to the wokeness rainbow. We're constantly learning and growing because culture changes. We see this just in how people decide what they want to call themselves and how often language changes. If we're not constantly learning, then we're going to be left behind. The best way to learn is to seek out resources created by the impacted community. Another thing I always tell people is that this doesn't have to feel like school. It can be watching a movie created by and about people with an identity that you don't share.

It can be reading a novel by and about someone with an identity you don't share. Those resources are really, really valuable. I also constantly recommend that people look to other allies, particularly when they're going from that aware to active stage, because that could be really scary. The prospect of speaking up and speaking out is something that we're not necessarily taught as a useful skill or one that's seen as valuable, but even though it's incredibly valuable and really needed. Find other people who identify themselves as allies and ask them how they can speak up and speak out and what actions they can take, and then get that feedback loop going with them.

Those are the ways that I think are good steps to start addressing your desire to be an active ally. Allyship is a verb. You're right. You need to back it up. You need to walk the walk. Having some guidance with another ally learning on your own is I think the two best strategies to move ahead with that.

JENNIFER BROWN: Great. Jen, can I have one more thing? Allyship comes from a place of privileges, I think, which means that there's something that is easier or more seamless or more comfortable or safer, that we have more permission to do or say. And that is because we are an insider in a given system, whether that's our education, the way we look, the way we identify, what is visible about us, whatever it is. The allyship then is sort of adding that piece that we have access to to someone else being in solidarity with, being alongside.

When people say, "Well, I don't know where this should come from in me," I say, "You can hold a lot of identities. You may hold both marginalized identities, but you also may hold identities of privilege." I feel very much like I relate to that as an LGBTQ person who needs the allyship, but also the person that can be that ally from all these other identities that I carry. Really we can be many things at once.

I think that that's a great place to come from because it feels to me very actionable. It's sort of what can I do today to lift up another, to share something I have, to advocate for, to champion, to intervene, to interrupt, to have a truthful hard conversation so that somebody else maybe doesn't have to have it because they always have to have it? All those things are very, I think, actionable and are sort of the meat of allyship.

JENNIFER SARRETT: Absolutely. I think recognizing our own privilege is such a huge challenge because we're not taught that we have privilege. We're taught that being privileged in a particular sense is stigmatized, or not stigmatized, but embarrassing. To say I'm privileged is not something we should say, but we have privilege. As a white woman, I know that I exist in a world that gives me a whole lot of privilege. The other thing that holding this privilege tells us implicitly is that we have the power to take over. And as an ally, part of recognizing our own privilege is recognizing that we need to actually step back, that that is not our place. And so in the book you talk about this, you talk about the danger of allies coming in and taking over and of centering their role over the community that you're supposed to be working on behalf. Can you talk about that a little bit?

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. Thank you. This is the balance, right? This is the avoidance of what we might call saviorism, the urge to rush in and to take over or suck out all the oxygen in the room as I think of it. And to assume also, by the way, that you know what the remedy is. I think one of the most important things I've learned is to slow my role and to pause in my enthusiasm. And like I was saying earlier, to check in and to say, what is need, not is what do I think is needed? And sometimes it is what I think is needed because I'm the only one in the context. Maybe I'm the only one in a room. And there really isn't anybody to check with, when something is said or not said, or needs to be called in for a conversation with feedback. But I think that many...

People who are harmed by microaggressions and biases don't respond to those in the same way. We are all different, even though we may be a part of one community, each of us is configured differently. We have different triggers, we use our voice in different ways. We are on our own journey in terms of confidence and bandwidth and emotional strength. And it even varies day by day. It varies person by person and day by day. So I think that when we pause to say, I think I noticed this, I think I want to apply allyship here, but let me pause and check in on what is really needed according to someone who has been impacted. And we may be surprised by what we learn about what is needed, but I think that's such an important piece. We are not in a rescue mode and we are not unintentionally taking voice away in our effort from someone who needs to basically steer that allyship.

So allyship should be steered. I think of it like, I don't want to use a weapon analogy, but it's a resource to be deployed. I'm a resource to be deployed and I want to make sure I am being deployed in the right way, in the most useful way. And sometimes I have a very limited understanding of what that is. And this is where allies can really grow, I think, in saying, so what is needed here? How can I intervene? Am I needed? In what capacity? And how can I support? And those are the questions I think we need to come from in order to avoid this piece. So Jen, let me ask you, how does this land for you and how has this worked in your journey and then have you seen in others and how do we avoid in our enthusiasm kind of stepping on the process that's really needed?

JENNIFER SARRETT: That urge to want to help and feeling ready to take action and getting really excited about that seems almost antithetical to stepping back. So you're having to do these two things where you're ready and you're preparing yourself to act as an ally, but part of that action is inaction in a particular way. And it makes me think of the platinum rule, as opposed to the golden rule. The golden, rule treat people as you want to be treated. Well, no, the platinum rule is actually much more appropriate, treat people how they want to be treated, and you don't know how they need to be treated because they have a different life and a different set of identities and different positionality. And I think another area that, when you said at the very beginning about sucking all the energy out, I think one area this happens a lot is when we make mistakes as allies and somebody calls us out on it.

And a lot of times the response is this overwhelming sense of guilt and the expression of that, "I am so sorry that... I cannot believe I did that". And "Oh my God, can you believe I did that? Did you hear what I did? I can't believe it the next day. I'm still so sorry. I can't stop thinking about it." That's sucking the emotional energy out of this event that harmed somebody else and it's not about your guilt. It's about the impact that you had on this other person when you made that error. And so again, it's reining it in, it's, "I'm sorry, I'm learning from this. I'll do better in the future" and then leave it. You can go and wallow in your guilt if that's what you're feeling, that's fine. But don't forget that the attention as an ally is not necessarily on you, that your attention needs to center impacted people because that's the core of being an ally, is using your privilege to elevate and center people who don't share that privilege.

JENNIFER BROWN: That's right. Oh, I love that. Wallowing is the word. It's when our ego gets involved, it's the bruising of the ego because the ego wants to be right. The ego wants to be perfect. The ego wants to think that we're great at this before we've really earned being great at it. I struggle with it. Believe me. I take things extremely hard because I'm so well intentioned and I'm such a perfectionist. So I would say too, to let the air out of the balloon, I think this is why finding other aspiring allies to decompress with when these things happen. I think it's really important. Not burdening, like Jen, you implied, and we do this. We go back to the person who's given us the feedback and we sort of dump a bunch on them that is not theirs to carry. Really, because honestly the giving of feedback takes so much courage sometimes, and sometimes has to come from a place of fatigue anyway, and we don't need to add to that.

And so we need to take all of our feelings and when we're in our feelings and go process it somewhere else. And this is where I think we need our communities around us. We need to invest in communities. It's interesting. I have like identity communities that I do this work in also. And then I have cross identity communities and friendships that I process things in, too. So I think we need both because we need the truth and we need the hard truth. We don't want to shield ourselves from that, but we're going to have different conversations and be able to process things differently, depending on who's on the other side of that. And it's all good. It's all good. It's just different. And I would encourage people to have both of those aspects in our lives so that we can unpack things appropriately.

And it kind of reminds me of some of the clients we work with, Jen, have ally ERGs or affinity groups and their sole purpose is to have these conversations so that we don't necessarily always have to go to others to process the information. And I think that's brilliant. I think it's so important. Same with white men groups that exist here and there. They're not common, but I think it's so, again, really, really important that what can be learned and worked through in groups like that is invaluable because there has to be a place where you can let the ego out and let that give air and put the sunlight on that a bit so that it can be healed. And it's not other people's job to heal that necessarily who are already being impacted by that in the organization we're all in.

JENNIFER SARRETT: Absolutely. And I think it gets easier that every time I get caught, I mean, because we all make mistakes. We are going to continue to make mistakes. That's just part of life. We're all humans. And the more you check your privilege, the more you understand your privilege, the more you are continuing to learn about other groups and the more you are building and cultivating your sense of humility, the easier it gets so that guilt, you're able to say, that's not about me. This is about this other person.

And I fear that when people first are given criticism or feedback about a mistake they made, it might shut people down and stop them from being an ally and put them back into that world of being a bystander instead of an upstander. And that's what we really want allies to be is an upstander. Now I know that this term is kind of new. It's one that I only became familiar with in the past couple years. And upstander is a word that you use in your book and I really wanted to bring it up because I wanted to see if you could give us your thoughts on what it means to be an upstander and not a bystander. What does that word even mean to you?

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah, well, yeah. I mean the bystander assumes that it's somebody else's problem. Somebody else is going to fix it. Maybe I'll go to my required training and I'll be better. I'll be trained. I'll be diversity trained. I'll be able to check the box, but really it's like the abdication of responsibility. And I think this takes a lot of forms. It reminds me in the inclusive leader continuum of being in the unaware stage phase, phase one, of the not my problem, wouldn't know how to intervene, may say the wrong thing so I'm scared and I'm not going to say anything. So it's this passiveness. And I think then the process we go through as we learn and gather information, as you were talking about earlier, Jen, and we begin to go into active phase three and we begin to intervene or to interrupt or to call somebody in for a conversation, that's when we move from bystander to upstander. We move into the arena, we move into the conversation and we stand up for or alongside.

And that's the solidarity energy of the allyship that I think is powerful. So this is just another term for it, but it's... What you said earlier though about not wanting folks to get a piece of feedback, particularly when they're early in their journey, and kind of pulling away and going back to the sidelines. Going back to sort of opting out, if you will. I always think of it like I'm going to take my marbles and I'm going to go home. I'm not playing this game anymore. I'm not good at it. I'm never going to be better at it. I think we tell ourselves too, that this is too uncomfortable, too awkward, that didn't go well. And I think we have to just pay attention to how we talk to ourselves because nobody has ever built new skills like berate by berating themselves, and certainly not being berated by others.

So the calling in, the encouragement to step in to the bystander to become an upstander needs a lot of encouragement, a lot of fostering, I think a lot of nurturing. And we have to be careful of our own self-talk. We can tend to be really critical and kind of give up before we even start, and lose faith that actually this is a muscle that can become strengthened.

I mean, you and I, Jen, I think we can speak to our journeys of building competency and building the resilience to get feedback and come back. Not let it knock us over entirely, but I think of it like a Weeble wobble, it's sort of the bounce back to me is the resilience of this work. And being able to, okay, check my ego, go process it somewhere else, come back and have a positive attitude about, "Okay, I got this. I'm going to incorporate this. I'm going to come in again and I'm going to do it better over time." And that faith has to come from within us, but we all have a role to play in supporting the ally in training, supporting the upstander in process.

And that's how we hold space and grace for each other. And it can be done by calling in. Ideally, sometimes calling out is necessary. I think sometimes when change isn't happening and it gets getting frustrating, and feedback has been given, and it's not getting traction, certainly calling out is important. And the Me Too movement is a great example of calls, call ins that had to become call outs, and had to be done on Twitter, and had to be done publicly. And there's just so much pent-up frustration with lack of action and accountability.

But I think in the work environment, the call in is the invitation. It's the nurturing and the fostering of the learner through the process by which they move into the upstander. And I think we need to check ourselves if we ever get high and mighty and righteous about what people don't know. I think we all have much learning. I always use the example of getting a little too righteous and then saying, "Okay, so name 10 gender identities for me right now. Tell me exactly what's being talked about in the LGBTQ+ community around identity."

And that is a fast-moving conversation that even I within the community am constantly striving to stay up on. So there's none among us that hasn't been in the receiving feedback position. And I think that's what we have to keep in mind when we are the giving of the feedback position.

JENNIFER SARRETT: Oh gosh. I have so many thoughts. I think when I think about the continuum, one, I think that the active stage is the scariest. And I think that one of the traits of being in the advocate stage is being able to bounce back like you were saying. Being able to take that feedback and being like, "Okay, well, I'm going to continue on. I'm learning. I'm going to learn. I'm going to integrate this into my future work, but I'm absolutely not going to let it slow me down."

And I think that those in the advocate stage really need to be on the lookout kind of like you were saying for those in the active stage, for people that need the support, need to be lifted up. But something I think about quite often in my role as an ally, we know that we can be different places on this continuum for different communities. So I definitely count myself as a disability advocate. I've been doing this work for many years. Also, for people with conviction histories, anti-racist, things like that. But there are other areas of allyship that I'm a little bit less sure of and we can be anywhere on that continuum at any time.

And as I said, I really think that the active stage can be quite scary, and a place where allies really are on the lookout for whether or not it is safe for them to speak up and speak out. And I really struggle with this. I struggle with I want to use my privilege on behalf of others as much as possible.

Do I as somebody who holds this privilege have the right to take a step back in order to protect my own self in order to make sure that I'm not getting disciplined at work, to make sure that I'm not getting ostracized by my family members? I'd really like to hear your thoughts on allies recognizing their own recognizing when it is safe for them to speak up and speak out, and whether or not that should dictate being an upstander or a bystander.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah, yeah. Boy, it's tricky because I think it's driven by our personalities. Some of us are super comfortable breaking glass and we're sort of ready to suffer the consequences of that. Whether it's not speaking to our families anymore because of disagreements and hard conversations. And some people feel they need to do that and it's heartbreaking to feel that you have to choose between your ideals, and your beliefs, and your loved ones, for example.

And I think we've all been tested with this and the last five years or so with very, very difficult conversations about everything that's happening in our world, and having to take stands, and some things have broken. And so I think it's up to each one of us to think about, "How do I best create change around me? What's my appetite?" And some of us work with, some of us are more comfortable being more radical. My personal way of working is within and with the system. It just tends to be what I gravitate to because it is my style.

And I'm pretty conflict diverse, Jen. So I don't conceal that and I don't know if that's ever really going to change about me. So maybe that's driving the way that I'm a changemaker, and I think that's okay. There's some loud voices. There's some quieter voices. There's a lot of ways to create change. So I think each one of us just needs to assess, "So which systems am I privileged in? Where can I have a voice? What do I have the appetite, the bandwidth, the emotional energy for? What am I willing to put at risk?" I think that's a really good question to ask.

And there is this sense of pushing if we're not uncomfortable, we're not leading. And so I do think not all of this should be easy and should be comfortable. Because if it isn't uncomfortable, we're not growing, we're not evolving, we're not challenging ourselves and others around us. But I think it's just this calibration and evaluation of what can I stretch that won't break? How can I stretch it without breaking it? Because we ultimately, I think, want to pull people along with us.

If we break it, maybe that's okay. Maybe it needed to be broken, but I always strive as a changemaker, this is my change style. My biggest challenge of my life is bringing folks along. So how hard can I push while not losing? And some things need to be lost. So I say, let's evaluate what can be lost and should be lost. For example, sometimes organizations spend a whole lot of time in angst over the laggards on DEI. Like the ones that just don't get it, or the ones that are actively resistant, and everybody obsesses about them, and they're the ones that write the letter every Pride Month, and they write the letter to the CEO and say, "I disagree with this on religious principles and whatever."

And there's a lot of energy organizationally that goes this direction to that. But you can argue that doesn't need our energy. Our energy is too precious. And where we need to really resource is those who want to come along, but are confused about how to do so who are kind of stuck, but who have the will, but don't have the mechanism, or the way. I think that's a lot more interesting, a lot more energizing.

I think it's going to differ for each of us about how much risk am I willing to take? How resilient can I be? What am I willing to lose? And I would say also don't assume you're going to lose something. I think, too, it's like coming out. I assumed and many, many LGBTQ people assume, "I'm going to lose this person. I'm going to lose that person. This is going to go badly." But I think what we often find when we come out over and over and over again, that it goes very differently than how we would anticipate.

So I also think we need to show a lot of courage, and kind of faith, and that things will shake out if we're truthful, and if we sort take those risks that the right folks will follow us, the right folks will appear to go with us. And the folks that are not ready to go with us, it's sort of the thing that we let go. It was meant to be.

There's a certain amount of this that we have to give up to the bigger things at play and be ready to be surprised I think when we step outside of the systems that have worked for us and that were built for the systems around us that were built with us in mind, that were built by people that look like us. All of that is what needs to be challenged. And on the inside, we need to challenge it from the inside. That's precisely how things change. If you are an insider in something, you understand-

JENNIFER BROWN: Things change, you know? If you are an insider in something, you understand how it works. You are the ideal change agent. So I think that this is what's needed, and it's hard. It's hard to risk some things, but I just would question what are you really risking, how do you know, what are you willing to risk, what is on the other side that you haven't even discovered yet, and then kind of plot your course from there.

JENNIFER SARRETT: I love that. I think it's really important to emphasize that there's so many different forms of allyship. There's the "I'm going to have one-on-one talks with people in my network. I'm going to be..." There's the, "I'm going to be in your face and controversial, and have a big platform," and there's the, "I'm going to work with HR on their policies," and all of that is needed, right? All of that is helpful. And all of that does require a certain amount of leaning into the discomfort and falling forward, like you like to say. I think all of that is really helpful to understand, that yes, it's going to be uncomfortable, but like you said, on the other side, the rewards for yourself and for others, most importantly, is what's going to be there.

And I couldn't help thinking, when you were talking about the individual who's really resistant to it all, and who do we need to focus our energy on? It's such an important point. There is a certain level of allyship triage that needs to happen. Where is our energy most effectively spent? And you're right. It's likely not the people that have always been super resistant, right? It's those who are interested but unaware, in the unaware stage. You know, that's who we have to look out for. I think it's really important.

JENNIFER BROWN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

JENNIFER SARRETT: I know we're getting to the end of our time. I wanted to close out by just asking you if you could share some simple things that people can do immediately, in the next coming days, to signal that they're an ally, or that they're ready to become an ally.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. I mean, my favorite go-to on this is sharing our pronouns, Jen. Like, me saying I use she/her pronouns, and sort of throwing that in there as naturally and as organically as I can, and as often as I can, because we just... We're changing landscapes all the time. Different people are around us, right? Virtually, in person, all over the world, our teams. I think it bears repeating, because it needs to be heard, that A, we're not assuming everybody around us shares our gender identity, so when we disclose our pronouns, we are basically saying like, "Hey, I've thought about this. I don't want to misgender anyone, and I am aware that this is a new practice. And it's also safe for me, safer for me to declare my pronouns as a cisgender person. There's not a lot of risk there."

So I'm also aware of the privilege I have, because the world is geared towards cisgender people, right? And I get to walk through the world not having to reconcile this piece of me, so I can begin the conversation. I can go first, and I say leaders always need to go first. And we're leading at any level, so I don't mean leaders on the org chart necessarily, but when we are leading a process, or a conversation, or an initiative, or anything. You know, just building this in is a beautiful way to show that I'm aware of the bias that is in the world, which is the assumption that somebody may identify with pronouns that match the way their gender appears to us, which may not be the whole story.

I believe we need to do this and not have an expectation of response, or we do not need to require this just because we are doing it too. I get that question a lot, Jen, and it's like, "Well, I don't want to put people under the microscope or force them to do something that they're not comfortable doing," or whatever. It's not about that. To me, I think we need to do these things in a vacuum. Oftentimes, allyship is done in a vacuum. We don't get the feedback. We don't know what kind of difference it made to someone. And yet we need to do it, still.

Because somebody needs to hear us doing it, to see us doing it, to know that we are a safe place. Like, we are a leader who cares about psychological safety and is aware of our own potential biases, and we have to just open that door, open that door, open that door. And then at some point, when the trust has been built, and somebody believes us, not just like, "Here's the talking points," but really believes us, that's when we can be approached, and be entrusted with somebody's truth. Which is what we want. It's what we need in order to lead better.

So the more that we can open these doors around DEI principles, and conversations, and bringing up topics, and acknowledging that people may be in pain because of things that are happening in the outside world, the more that we can signal this, I think the more that we can open up these doors. And then others will walk through and go with us, but I don't think we can do it for the rewards. We can't do it for the pat on the back. We can't do it for the acknowledgement, necessarily. That will come. I have found that that will come in its time, you know?

Remember that people are carrying so much trauma, so much trauma around us, from traumatic boss relationships, traumatic not being seen and heard in multiple jobs, in multiple companies, so we may be trying to really rewrite something, and we may be the first person that's ever done that, or opened that door, or had that conversation, or invited that. And if that's true, we have to be ready to play the long game on this, you know? Because we are... And somebody said, "Humans are trauma bombs." Yes. Like, we are carrying that, and it's hard to undo the cynicism, and the skepticism, and the lack of trust. We can't just expect that to happen quickly, so that's something we need to earn.

And this is the whole thing we've been talking about, Jen, the earning of it over time, how we rebuild the trust when trust has been broken by others that have been preceded us, the way that we restart that conversation, and the way that we can consistently kind of put, brick by brick, that relationship, so that somebody will trust us with their truth. That's, to me, the measure of effective, not just allyship, but leadership.

JENNIFER SARRETT: Right, and being a good human. It's a good way [inaudible 00:39:40]

JENNIFER BROWN: That is right. It all just comes down to that.

JENNIFER SARRETT: Exactly, exactly. Thank you so much. That was a really great way to summarize our conversation, I think, and the way to move forward, and the fact that it is a long game, and you know? If you're going to be in it, be dedicated to being in it, and check yourself, check others around you, and be a source of support.



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