The Ladder of Vulnerability Panel Discussion


August 8, 2022



About This Episode


This episode is a recording of a previous event “The Ladder of Vulnerability” you can find the full video at

If psychological safety is a culture of rewarded vulnerability, the most practical way to increase psychological safety is to model acts of vulnerability yourself and reward the vulnerable acts of others.

But not all acts of vulnerability are created equal. What you perceive as a low-risk act of vulnerability might be high-risk for someone else. We call this the Ladder of Vulnerability. You have a ladder that is unique to you: it comes from your environment, your role, socialization and education, your confidence, and the way people treat you. 

In this live virtual event, Timothy R. Clark was joined by panelists Rafael Ramos from Coca-Cola FEMSA, Chantal le Roux from Amazon Web Services, Zaineb Haider from Cigna, and Tracey Walker from RSM. Together they discuss their own personal ladders of vulnerability based on the LeaderFactor vulnerability self-assessment. 

As a participant, you’ll also have the opportunity to take the Ladder of Vulnerability self-assessment at

What is Psychological Safety (2:47) 

Psychological safety can be defined in five words “a culture of rewarded vulnerability”. Human interaction is a vulnerable activity. The question is what are we going to do about that? Are we going to reward the vulnerability of others? 

What are Some Common Acts of Vulnerability? (4:15)

When we say that we are being vulnerable it translates into specific behaviors. The live attendees shared a few examples of common acts of vulnerability including:

-Stating that you disagree

-Admitting you don’t know something

-Sharing mistakes

-A handshake

-Meeting new people

-Providing feedback

-Being in a minority group

-Sharing something personal

-Challenging someone who has more authority than you. 

The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety™ Framework (7:15)

Psychological safety is a combination of respect and permission. It includes four stages that social groups of all kinds progress through. Inclusion is the first human need that we need to satisfy. Each stage represents a higher level of vulnerability. 

  1. Inclusion Safety
  2. Learner Safety
  3. Contributor Safety
  4. Challenger Safety

The Ladder of Vulnerability Self-Assessment (11:35)

All participants are invited to take a 20 question self-assessment.

Meet our Panelists (13:10)

Chantal le Roux

Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Program Manager for Amazon Web Services 

Chantal le Roux is an Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Programme 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.

Rafael Ramos

Chief Supply Chain and Engineering Officer for Coca-Cola FEMSA.

Mr. Ramos joined Coca-Cola FEMSA in 1999 and was appointed to his current position in 2018. With over 31 years of experience in the beverage industry, he previously served in several senior management positions, including Manufacturing Director for Southeast Mexico, Manufacturing and Logistics Director, Supply Chain Director for Mexico and Central America, and Supply Chain Director of FEMSA Comercio. 

Tracey Walker 

National Leader of Culture, Diversity and Inclusion for RSM

As principal within the $3B RSM enterprise, Tracey Walker serves as National Leader of Culture Diversity and Inclusion (CDI). She designs RSM's national diversity, equity and inclusion programming, policy and enterprise-wide strategy, creating a culture of inclusion for the 15,000 domestic employees across 90 offices in the US and Canada. She also supports the cultural effectiveness efforts of RSM International. 

Zaineb Haider

Senior Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisor at Cigna

Zaineb Haider is the Senior Advisor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Cigna. Zaineb designs and leads Inclusive Leadership Enablement across the Cigna Enterprise. Zaineb’s experience is in DEI organizational assessments, strategy design and implementation, cultural intelligence and DEI facilitation. Prior to joining Cigna, Zaineb was a Senior Consultant with Ivy Planning Group providing DEI consulting and training services to leading Fortune 500 corporations, 

Tracey Walker Ladder of Vulnerability Insights (17:29)

Tracey shares her insights on the top three most vulnerable items and her bottom three items in her self assessment. 

Rafael Ramos Ladder of Vulnerability Insights (20:54)

Rafael shares his insights on the top three most vulnerable items and his bottom three items in her self assessment. 

Zaineb Haider Ladder of Vulnerability Insights (24:51)

Zaineb shares her insights on the top three most vulnerable items and her bottom three items in her self assessment. 

Chantal le Roux Ladder of Vulnerability Insights (28:33)

Chantal shares her insights on the top three most vulnerable items and her bottom three items in her self assessment. 

Panelists Group Discussion and Insights (31:33)

Question (31:33): Let’s assume we are taking this assessment as a team and now we are aware of each other's ladders of vulnerability. What would you do differently? How would this help you in everyday work life?

Question (37:28) How has the culture (geographically) of which you are apart influenced your ladder?

Question (42:15) How do we reconcile the need to fit in with the need to be ourselves?

Closing Remarks (48:02)

Cultures of rewarded vulnerability are cultures with high psychological safety. To improve psychological safety in your organization is to model acts of vulnerability yourself and reward the vulnerable acts of others. The 4 Stages Improve platform will help you uncover your team members’ areas of greatest vulnerability and then help you reward that vulnerability through data-driven action plans.

Explore The Podcast

Stage One: Inclusion Safety

In this week on the Culture by Design podcast, Tim and Junior introduce the first episode of a four-part series on The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety. This week's topic? Stage One: Inclusion Safety. In this value-packed, hour-long conversation, Tim and Junior dive deep into questions like: How does inclusion relate to diversity and equity? Is interaction the same thing as connection? And what can we do to foster inclusion safety in our cultural spheres?

Invest in Your Well-Being with Melody Wilding

In this week’s episode of the Culture by Design podcast, Timothy R. Clark is joined by Melody Wilding, author of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work. As an executive coach, professor of Human Behavior, licensed social worker, and Harvard Business Review contributor, Melody has lots to say about how burnout, ambition, sensitivity and empathy.

Don't Let Hierarchy Stifle Innovation

Today Tim and Junior sit down to discuss Tim’s recent Harvard Business Review article titled “Don’t Let Hierarchy Stifle Innovation.” There are a lot of concepts that Tim wasn’t able to include in his article that are discussed today, including how to improve our interactions, how to unleash bottom-up innovation and the role that hierarchy plays in innovation and execution.

Employee Engagement or Psychological Safety: Which Comes First?

Back by popular demand is another special episode talking about engagement and psychological safety. Tim and Junior talk about which is a lead measure, which is a lag measure, and which is a consequence of the other. This episode comes from a previous webinar recorded in 2021. Give it a listen:

Leaning into Self-Awareness with Caroline von Koenig

In this week’s episode of Culture by Design, Timothy R. Clark is joined by Caroline von Koenig, Fidelity International’s global Wellbeing Lead. They discuss how self-awareness, resilience, and understanding can create cultures that are healthy, inclusive and safe for all types of people. Caroline’s interests in neurodiversity and cultural identity made for a great conversation. Give it a listen:

Be a Human Leader with Lindsay Kaplan

In this week’s episode of Culture by Design, Lindsay Kaplan, head of People Development at Clif Bar joins Timothy R. Clark to talk about anxiety, vulnerability, and what it takes to be a human leader. She advocates for authenticity, empathy, and adaptability as the main characteristics of good leaders and encourages listeners to chase a growth mindset.