Ruchika Tulshyan: Inclusion is Leadership

Inclusion starts with you. Yes, you! We each have the power to shift workplace culture. We don’t have to wait — #inclusion starts with *you.” This week on Win(e)d Down Wednesday, Ruchika Tulshyan talks about her new book, “Inclusion On Purpose” and shares actionable ways you can #BreakTheBias in order to create a culture of belonging at work.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Interview with Ruchika Tulshyan

Amanda Hammett: Today we are talking about inclusion and since international women's day is next week on March the eighth. Today, we're going to be looking at how to break the bias by focusing on the role each of us can play to forge and promote a diverse. Equitable and inclusive workplace. Today's episode will focus on the role of leaders, and how organizations can use their privilege for good by identifying and exposing bias. I'm Amanda Hammett and today I'm celebrating and I am drinking a little bit of bubbly. So what are you drinking today, Jeff?

Jeffery Tobias Halter: Yes, it's a beautiful day down here in, uh, Atlanta, So celebrating women's history month. I've got a very nice Pinot Grigio, and uh, it's it's my absolute honor and privilege to introduce my friend, Ruchika Tulshyan. Uh, I've known Ruchika for a while. This is her second book that's coming out. It just debuted yesterday. She is the author of inclusion on purpose, an intersectional approach to creating a culture of belonging at work. Which was just released March 1st. We're so happy to have her on. She is the founder of Candor, a global inclusion strategy firm. She's a regular contributor to the Harvard business review and the New York times, she was selected to think fifties radar in 2019. Uh, self-declared Singaporean foodie Ruchika has lived in four countries and currently calls Seattle home. Welcome.

Ruchika Tulshyan: Jeff, thank you so much for having me. Thanks, Amanda.

Amanda Hammett: Wonderful. Well, we're very excited to have you on Win(e)d Down Wednesday So Ruchika, tell us what is your beverage of choice today?

Ruchika Tulshyan: Oh my gosh. It has to be champagne. I've always loved champagne, but it feels like this. This is a good week to celebrate.

Amanda Hammett: Uh, yes, it is writing a book like this is, is something to celebrate for all of us. So thank you. So congratulations on that newly published book. I know it just came out yesterday, inclusion on purpose. So what really prompted you to write the book and what conversations and change are you at? Are you hoping to spark with it.

Ruchika Tulshyan: Yeah. And I just wanted to start with this little mini story of how Jeff really encouraged me to write my first book, the diversity advantage. Um, and we've had some long conversations about gender equality, and fixing gender inequality in the workplace. And, um, you know, and, and in, uh, in all those years, since Jeff and I have been connected, it became clear to me that the work that I specifically was doing around gender equality. Was missing and really needed to focus more deeply on that intersection between race and gender. And so, as I started thinking about this book, it became really clear that the focus must be on the experience of women of color in the workplace. You know, a very large demographic, a very diverse demographic, even within this larger subset of women of color. Um, and so it became clear that the next book had to focus on the experiences of women of color and how leaders can really identify their privilege, where they may hold by biases and how to take personal and and really intentional action for change.
Jeffery Tobias Halter: That is such a, such a great setup. Um, and it builds really on your first book. You, you know, the diversity advantage fixing gender inequality in the workplace, you made a great comment in it. Inclusion is leadership is inclusion. Let's talk about leadership and leadership buying-in. How can leaders and organizations use their privilege? And I love that you're calling out that, you know, we talk about privilege, but you know what white men and white women need to use their privilege for identifying as exposing bias. So give us, gives us some thoughts about that.

Ruchika Tulshyan: Yeah, I love this, uh, framing by John Amaechi, who is a fantastic, you know, just a thought leader across the board, um, based in the UK. And he has this really bite-sized nugget that he said for the BBC, which I use all the time. Um, Which says, you know, privilege is basically the absence of impediment. So I think there's a lot of shame associated with, I have privilege and you know, I've had it hard too. And why do I need to think about my privilege of I've struggled with other, you know, challenges in my life, Whereas what John says and I think we all need to think about is this at the end of the day, it's just the absence of impediment. No one is saying to you, you haven't had a hard time. No, one's saying you didn't work hard. What, what the movement for more of us wanting to, you know, encourage leaders to identify their privilege, which really means I've had to identify my privilege. And I really get deep in the book about where I've had absence of impediments. And once you really get clear on that, that's when you can make meaningful change and identify the folks around you who do have those impediments, right. And how the absence of that impediments made change, um, you know, made your life easier and how you can use that for good. Um, and so I think for me, this, when I think about inclusion is leadership is inclusion. Is this idea that it's true. The only thing that I saw in common with all the, you know, leaders I spoke to for my first book around the world, around across industries, across location, um, across size, those that were gender balanced only really had one thing in common and that was leadership buy-in. And so, as I thought about this, you know, second book and conceptualizing it, that became a very strong theme for me. How do I Influence and hopefully, encourage leaders less about shame and blame, but more about influence and encourage and persuade leaders to identify their privilege and take intentional action for inclusion.

Amanda Hammett: That's powerful stuff right there. So Ruchika, Jeff often says that women don't actually need to lean in there's that famous movement, Sheryl Sandberg the whole thing. But what we actually need are our men to engage in DEI initiatives, especially those that focus on advancing women. So let's talk for just a second about how do we dismantle structural bias within organizations?

Ruchika Tulshyan: And this is why Jeff and I are friends because I absolutely. Believe that women, women of color people with other intersectional marginalized identities don't need fixing. Right. We don't need to be told how to be more confident or negotiate better. In fact research again, and again, shows that women ask for raises just as often as men. They're just not given them. Right. And then you add those layers of praise you add the additional layers, socioeconomic class educational privilege, and, um, you know, and then it just, yeah. Essentially women do not need to be fixed. So I think when we think about structural bias within the organization that is really built on individual bias. Right. And a lot of the ways that our systems are set up a lot of the ways that our organizations were set up. We're for, you know, white men in the 1950s with a spouse at home who would run things and they would go out and they would bring home the bacon. And what's interesting is despite all these changes, despite all the technological advancements, despite all the knowledge work, all the innovation that's happened since those days. The way we work, hasn't changed that much. In fact, it's just gotten worse, right? Through digital tools. We're working, you know, more 12, 14 hours a day, constantly on our email, constantly stressed out and that's really structural bias baked into the way that we're doing work. So I think a lot of us need to now take a step back, especially right now, we're still in the middle of a very, or hopefully towards the end of a very, very devastating pandemic. We need to rethink how we're working and how are we supporting, especially women who disproportionately are caregivers.

Jeffery Tobias Halter: I want to add another really great, uh, article that you wrote. It's been downloaded over a million times. It's in the Harvard business view, stop telling women they have imposter syndrome. And, you know, and I've been preaching this and it really want to build on what Amanda just asked this notion of fixed bias, not women, but I want you to take a deeper dive specifically around intersectionality. Of race and gender and what that looks like because you've got so many great examples.

Ruchika Tulshyan: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. I mean, I think the, the response to the imposter syndrome article, which I co-wrote with Jodi-Ann Burey. Yeah, mind-blowing, we did not expect it to go viral. It also really went viral across countries, which was also very nice to see. Um, and what was, and what was interesting is how much this notion of women's confidence or lack of perceived, lack of confidence actually has a very strong racial element to it. I do unpack this a little bit in my book as well, but for example, for myself as someone who identifies as Asian. There's a lot of, you know, there's this expectation that I'm going to be very meek, that I'm going to not be able to advocate for myself, I'll have imposter syndrome. And when I've spoken to other Asian women, and again, you know, categorization is very broad. Asia is made up of many different countries and, um, you know, cultures, but essentially when I've spoken to Asian women in professionals, in professional industries across sort of technology, et cetera. Um, finance, what we found is there's this expectation that we're supposed to conform to, to be really meek and therefore having an imposter syndrome, narrative fits very nicely into this idea that we're going to lack confidence. And therefore we may, you know, we may be really smart. We may do all the work behind the scenes, but we're not going to be good enough to be leaders. We will lack the confidence. And what's interesting is when people like us. Push against that stereotype. So I don't lack confidence. You know, I'm pretty, I'm pretty outspoken, right? I've made a career of public speaking. When, when I do push back against that trope, people are really surprised and I, and that's also harmed my career in ways. That's also, created, uh, situations where people think, oh, well, you know, you're a little too outspoken for what we expected of you. So what the imposter syndrome narrative, and really talking about fixing structural bias does is it, it prompts more leaders and more organizations to rethink this idea of how women should show up in the workplace. And especially as we think about, you know, the more intersecting identities, you know, black women are unfortunately subject to the trope of the angry black woman, very harmful stereotype. Asian women are subjected to this harmful stereotype of being very submissive. I spoke to a number of women of color from different identities for the book. And again and again, these stereotypes really compound. So white women are expected to show up a certain way. Um, and there, and, and, um, you know, they, they behave counter to the stereotype. Then they're penalized as individuals, but for women of color, our entire group, right. I could be one of three Asian women in my workplace. I show up counter to the stereotype and that same brush is painted on all the other women of color from that, from Asia.

Amanda Hammett: Wow. Um, we could do 2, 3, 5, 10 episodes just on that little piece of information. Um, unfortunately we don't have time for that today. However, I do want to encourage everyone. I want to let everyone know that this is a two part series. We will have Ruchika, back next week. So please tune in. We're going to be talking more about what we've covered today. Ruchika, first of all, congratulations on your book. Second of all, thank you for sharing it with us. And for those of you listening in the audience, thank you guys for being here and thank you for listening. You will find your Ruchika's books, both of them, uh, at your favorite bookseller of choice. And of course you could follow her on Twitter at @rtulshyan that is R T U L S H Y A N on twitter And you can keep up with her insightful work there. Thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you, Amanda. Jeff.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.