Creating a culture of belonging at work with Ruchika Tulshyan

What role can each of us play to create and promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace? Inclusion strategist Ruchika Tulshyan joins Jeffery Tobias Halter and Amanda Hammett to discuss her new book, “Inclusion On Purpose,” and share tips on how to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion at work. Listen for her top tips for managers to #BreakTheBias.

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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

Jeffery Tobias Halter: Welcome to our show. We are building an international women's days theme. Break the Bias. Today we are continuing our deep dive into inclusion with a focus on the role each of us can play to forge and promote a diverse equitable and inclusive workplace. I'm Jeffery Tobias Halter. And today I'm enjoying a sparkling Pinot Grigio in celebration of bringing my friend and colleague on the show. But first I have to talk to Amanda. Amanda, what are you drinking today?

Amanda Hammett: I'm still celebrating too. I'm drinking some kava that I might have snuck back in my suitcase on the way home from Spain. So I am also delighted today to welcome Ruchika Tulshyan, back to the podcast she was with us last week. If you didn't hear it, I suggest you listen all the way through this week and then go back because my mind was spinning. There were so many questions I wanted to ask. So please, please, please go back and check it out. But Ruchika is the author of Inclusion on Purpose An Intersectional Approach to Creating a Culture of Belonging at Work which came out on March the 1st. She is also the founder of Candor, a Candor, a global inclusion strategy firm. She's also a regular contributor to the Harvard business review and the New York Times. Well, Ruchika, welcome back to Win(e)d Down Wednesday. We're excited to have you back. And of course, what's your beverage of choice today? It has to be champagne because I love celebrating with both of you Amanda and Jeff, thanks so much for having me and Amanda if you have, if you find an additional bottle in your suitcase of that cava do not hesitate to send it this way.

Amanda Hammett: And our earlier segment, we talked about inclusion and focused on the role of leaders in the organization. So let's talk now about the personal impact of what's happening in the workplace and the role that each of us can play to promote a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

Ruchika Tulshyan: Great question, Amanda. And I'm going to start with this idea that I truly believe that the majority of us, especially those in leadership positions, we do not set out to be exclusionary. We, I, I would like to believe that the majority of us do not have the intention to exclude others. Um, you know, there's no nefariousness going on here. I think what actually ends up happening is a lot of the way bias and exclusion shows up in the workplace is unintentional. I do limit the use of unconscious bias. I think that there are parts of it where we can. Um, you know, identify that we've been conditioned a certain way to leave people out, et cetera. But I think at our core, we just, we do want everyone to belong. We just don't always take personal action and responsibility for it. So I think the personal impact, the personal intentionality is the way that we are going to change the way, women and people of color and people with other overlook. Intersectional identities show up in the workplace, how much we feel like we belong and we can bring our full selves in. Some of the ways that I've seen leaders really taking action is that personal awareness looking around noticing, Hey,how come you know, how come this big project that we're doing for our company doesn't have any women on it or how come people of color aren't represented or, you know, am I the one leading every meeting and talking over everyone? It's those, it's those very intentional, many actions that I think cumulate and compound to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.

Jeffery Tobias Halter: You know, your book does such a great job about talking about microaggressions and on previous shows, we've talked about this concept of psychological safety. And employees really wanting this. I want you to build on those remarks. Um, your book is full of so many simple practical tips, amplifying, inviting people in. Give us a couple more of those and, and particularly maybe some of your favorites around how you foster a sense of belonging and inclusion, or, or more importantly, how can men or leaders foster that sense of belonging and inclusion?

Ruchika Tulshyan: Yeah, such a great question, Jeff. I think that awareness piece continues to be really important. And one of the ways, you know, we're all excited to speak up. Sometimes we interrupt each other. And one of the very powerful ways that I've noticed, you know, especially men. Or other people in leadership positions, which we know in corporate America is disproportionately white men where I've seen change is where they'll kind of stop and, and kind of take a pause and say, I'm really sorry. I didn't let you finish. Will you please finish? That's a small action that can really cumulate to create a culture where people don't interrupt each other in meetings. So that's one way where I've seen a change. Um, another place where I've I've seen change is when leaders and again, White, white men, even white women who are in leadership positions, positions of privilege is when they, uh, both diversify their social network and people whom they regularly interact with, because that variety of perspectives is very important to build empathy. But another way to do that is also consume different media, right? So if we know again in the United States, You know, the, the media is disproportionately, um, run by and covered by white journalists and white leaders. And so to seek out perspectives that are missing, I really recommend, for example, building empathy by reading fiction from a diversity of authors, um, which by the way, reading fiction has been proven research backed, uh, you know, proven strategy to, uh, foster, a greater empathy for leaders. So read fiction from a variety of diverse, uh, authors from diverse backgrounds. Um, that's these are some of the ways that I've already started seeing change for sure.

Amanda Hammett: Wow. Okay. So that I, the fiction piece, that is something that's new to me. I love that. I love that. So I work with a lot of first-time leaders, middle manager leaders. And what would be one tip that you could give them to help them break the bias.

Ruchika Tulshyan: Yeah, that's, that's such a good question, Amanda. I think my number one tip, and this is I truly in my heart believe it because I've seen it happen in my own life. And my own career inclusion really begins with personal awareness, action and accountability, and there's only one way to motivate your people and also begin an enduring legacy for your career and that's to make inclusion your number one priority. And I think. Especially in the time where in right now, again and again, I hear from, you know, a number of leaders who will say, oh my goodness. I, you know, I've never had to think about diversity, equity and inclusion. I now understand that the such an important priority, this is how we're going to continue being innovative and growing. And so I think for any manager and individual contributor, as someone who is ambitious and ready to get to the next level in their career, Inclusion has to be your number one priority.

Jeffery Tobias Halter: We've talked a lot about business, but, uh, as our time wines down, I want to shift to personal. Um, w uh, we know you're mom, uh, an author, you've endured writing a book during a pandemic, uh, with the three-year-old out of school. Um, talk to our parents of their, about how you managed, uh, maybe some of the difficulties. And maybe a strategy that they, uh, that you use to help them cope.

Ruchika Tulshyan: So, Jeff, I have to say that was the hardest experience I've ever had of writing the book with a kid at school kid out of school. And it gave me tremendous. empathy for what it's like to be a caregiver without a full support system. I also think what it helped me do is reflect on times in my life where I have been exclusionary and biased against other caregivers. Right. Both before I became a caregiver and sometimes. You know, even after I did with the sort of privilege I had to have, um, you know, support with raising my son. And so this experience specifically made me step back and think, you know, my role as someone who has influenced whose voice is, you know, listened to someone. It's important to be able to relay how challenging things are for caregivers and how much leaders need to prioritize support systems for all sorts of workers, all employees, you know, caregivers who are looking after it could be aging parents. It could be their own health issues. Really need to focus on this.

Amanda Hammett: Well, Ruchika, thank you so much for your candor, for your insights on inclusion and just sharing with us your personal experience. That's amazing, and thank you. Um, as always we thank, thank all of you for listening. Um, and if you want to learn more about Ruchika and her work, please, please, please go to That's R T U L S H Y A N .com. And you can of course find her books at your favorite bookseller of choice. She has the diversity advantage, fixing gender inequality in the workplace and her latest inclusion on purpose and intersectional approach to creating a culture of belonging at work. Thank you again for joining us, and we will see you in the next episode.

Ruchika Tulshyan: Thank you for having me.

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.