“Whatever is human is mentionable. And whatever is mentionable is manageable”
Updated: May 5
Our last blog was a very candid account from an NHS doctor on the challenges faced in trying to progress from junior doctor to Consultant and on to become a clinical leader. Since then, I’ve attended some truly brilliant training recently with Byron Lee, on inclusive coaching.
It’s been about so much more than that though. It has been a chance to really connect with other coaches in a way that hasn’t felt possible over the last two years. And no, the training hasn’t been in person. Byron’s facilitation skills are a marvel – gentle and firm, boundaried yet flexible. And the subject matter has been both stimulating and challenging – loads of theories and models about inclusion, power, privilege, resistance and solidarity.
I’ve been reflecting two models shared, and the first one is Byron’s Four Principles of Inclusive Practice:
Doing no harm – this is about physical, emotional and psychological safety alongside cultural humility (acknowledging aspects of cultural difference that are most important to the other person/people).
Working with difference – this one is about cultural intelligence, which is the skill needed to work effectively in culturally diverse situations.
Making a difference – you know you’re in this space when others call you an ally. It’s about leading with compassion and an inclusive mindset to create cultures where diversity is valued and a sense of belonging is for everyone.
Being the difference – demonstrating cultural wisdom (transformational, values based practice)
This model has got me thinking about all the different parts of my life where I think I am inclusive and where I’m not. I picture these principles like a set of steps up to a doorway into another world that is free of discrimination (utopia perhaps, but it’s helpful to have a vast vision to aim for isn’t it?). In my mind a step can be jumped over, they can be stumbled over, we can take them steadily one at a time, and sometimes we need help. And a lot of the time we go up and down them all the time without thinking. I have confidence and knowledge in some aspects of inclusion, but I am by no means an inclusion expert. I’m most definitely learning and sometimes there are glimpses of making a difference or being the difference, and there are times when I think I might have tripped on Step 1!
What do you notice about yourself in how you step around these principles?
“Indifference, not cruelty, is the opposite of compassion”, Erich H Loewy
The second model I have been thinking a lot about is different types of Positional Power:
Status – roles, titles (in the family, work, education, social lives)
Membership – groups, identities
Knowledge – access to and/or legitimacy of educational and/or experiential knowledge
Resources – availability of money, time, other resources; and degree of agency in how they’re used
Moral – norms, ethics, values
What I found really helpful to consider, is how these types of power interplay with each other. This is how we get systemic issues because everything is connected. An example of this is the Wheel of Privilege, a model I have used for a number of years now and shared previously. It very quickly shows us how intersectionality is the basis of under-privilege and over-privilege for different communities and individuals in society. It is never one-dimensional because as human beings we are not one-dimensional.
So, if we want to be the difference, how do we actively show up with transformational inclusive behaviours in our ways of working and living, day in day out?
My personal answer to that big question lies in the Buddhist aspiration of wishing all sentient beings (not just humans) to be free of suffering. Another vast vision! And so the practice of that - with my body, speech and mind - is a work in progress in solidarity with others in the Buddhist community.
What is your personal answer to that question? What types of power and privilege do you have? And where could you improve on doing no harm?
PS - the blog title is taken from the film "A beautiful day in the neighbourhood" with Tom Hanks (2019). It was recommended to me this week, and it's well worth watching.