June 20, 2022
In this week’s episode of Culture by Design, Chantal le Roux, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Program Manager at Amazon Web Services joins Timothy R. Clark to talk about how to embed inclusive strategy into workplace culture. It’s core business, something that people need to take ownership of in order to create spaces that are truly psychologically safe.
Here are some gems from the conversation:
Chantal describes her background and upbringing (1:30). Born premature, Chantal faced some developmental difficulties and differences that brought insecurities and challenges. This taught her a level of empathy that allowed her to become the therapist that she is today. She has lived in South Africa, Beijing, the United States and Berlin.
Chantal defines and explains her background in transpersonal psychology (5:30). Although it has been around since the 70s, many people are unaware of this vast field. The focus is psychology beyond ego: it connects an individual to their role in the universe and how they interact with and are affected by the world around them. “I am into helping others reach their potential, no matter the setting.”
Chantal shifts her work from education to the corporate space (8:30). This started with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Cape Town, and Chantal still works for AWS today as an Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Program Manager. Her role is business-embedded, which means she gets to dive deep into the lives of Amazon’s employees. She’s learned to meet people where they’re at so that people can access the information that they need.
When and how do you know that you’re making a difference? (10:35) According to Chantal, if perspective and/or environment has changed, you’ll know that you’re making a difference. But it’s not a finite or short-term journey.
Thinking long-term, thinking as an owner (12:35). When Chantal makes a decision as a leader at Amazon, she doesn’t choose what’s most convenient, she thinks about sacrificing short-term comforts to make choices that are investments. People want to arrive at inclusion as fast as possible, but there’s no real way to microwave inclusion.
Get to know yourself (15:00). Inclusion isn’t a superficial practice, it’s deep personal work. It stems from how you show up as a human. Committing to inclusion means finding your personal values and aligning them with the values of your organization. How do you connect with someone who is surface-acting?
It’s your role to show up and be authentic (24:00). Choose to be authentic so regardless of whether or not those around you will change and follow suit. It may seem awkward on the outside, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worthwhile.
Inclusion as a practice, not just a theory (26:30). Who isn’t going to raise their hand and say that they’re all for inclusion? Even if you understand the theory and believe that it’s core business and are willing to allocate resources to the space, that is all very different from recognizing that this is your role, not the role of the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Program Manager. It’s not agreeing to it in theory, it’s committing to it in daily practice.
Any inclusive strategy should be embedded into what you already do (29:20). It’s not an optional extra, it’s changing and adapting what you’re already doing. Then you commit to it and you do it consistently.
Self-compassion isn’t for you, it’s for the people you support (31:00). When you role model self-compassion, you give people permission to do the same. Why are we animated and motivated to do that for others, but never for ourselves?
Are you an ally outside of work? (35:00). When you have a real understanding of inclusion you cannot disengage or ignore acts of exclusion outside the workplace. There is no boundary between addressing something inside the workplace and addressing something outside of the workplace. There won’t be any off-switch to inclusion.
About Our Guest:
Chantal le Roux is an Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Program Manager for Amazon Web Services. She has a background in transpersonal psychology and special needs education. Her work focuses on supporting people in recognizing and reaching their potential.