This month’s DEI Changemakers are Nettie Nitzberg and Michael Saterman, two-thirds of the leadership team at Saterman Connect. Saterman Connect is a team of natural, instinctive collaborators with a deep-rooted passion for culture change that help leaders and organizations engage in cultural transformation in a manner that is strategic, impactful, and rooted in diversity, equity and inclusion.
During our time together, Michael and Nettie shared their keys to helping leaders create safe spaces and put DEI at the forefront. You can watch parts of Michael and Nettie's interviews here.
It’s important to recognize both the visible and invisible layers of diversity. Just because individuals look similar or have the same ethnicity, doesn’t mean they lack diversity. In order to understand more about one another and truly recognize and appreciate diversity, we have to dig a little deeper. As Michael stated, “I think that invisible dimensions of diversity naturally come, but people aren't always open to it to understand. They think I show up at work. I do my job. I go home. But leaders benefit from remembering the weight of your life doesn't disappear as you enter the proverbial door of the office, there may have been an argument with a spouse. One of your pets or children may be sick or had a great success that day and it's carrying with you into the office. Isn't it nice to hear “how's everything at home,” and answer that question, or “My child just got a prize or had an A plus on a test that they really struggled with and studied hard for.” That moment can be very relatable because even if our visible dimensions of diversity are radically different.”
Be mindful that words matter. Building a safe space is dependent on what we say, hear, and perceive. As Nettie stated during our interview, “Words matter in many ways. Sometimes we misspeak and it's unintentional. We use the wrong words. Language is extremely complex in any language and sometimes our intentions don't match. Our impact is very powerful and many people go through their days, not really appreciating and realizing how some of their words land…When you appreciate that your words aren't matching your intentions, it can create a dialogue that may not have been there otherwise, and that can be really empowering, really powerful.”
To create a safe space, be intentional. Leaders should set an intention for every meeting and interaction. This can start with a step as simple as setting a meeting agenda and sticking to it. The first item on the Saterman Connect team’s agenda is a set amount of time to catch up with team members. Not only does this help the team learn more about each other, it provides context for how certain individuals are approaching the week and allows leaders the opportunity to make space for team members who may be having a tough time.
Be mindful of the different personality types in the room. When you understand who’s in the room, you can do a better job of making space for everyone to be seen and heard. Michael illustrated this point using a powerful example of facilitating participation during a meeting: “Sometimes introverts don't feel comfortable speaking up. That can be the same with individuals who don't see equity or inclusion amongst their leaders or their culture. They're fearful of speaking up because they don't think they're going to be seen or respected…Every person speaks in a meeting. So, if I have ten people in a meeting and the extroverts have spoken up in the first ten minutes, they need to stay quiet and respectful for those other seven people to get their time and space, to share their thoughts, to ask their questions, and to contribute in their own way.”
Vulnerability is key. Michael and Nettie shared that one of the outcomes of social distancing and working from home was a humanizing effect: team members got to see leaders in their homes, and that shift added a layer of transparency and vulnerability that brought teams closer together. As we head back into the office full-time or into hybrid working environments, we have to do our part to maintain that sense of sharing and togetherness.
Be curious. Diversity is a beautifully inevitable part of life that can be difficult to approach at times. In order to break down silent barriers and understand one another, we have to be curious about one another and open to the reality that we all come from different backgrounds, with different experiences, and different perspectives. When we lean in to learn more rather than let our differences separate us we are able to grow closer.
How Saterman Connect Helps
Listening comes first. The Saterman Connect team recognizes that all organizations and leaders are unique, with their own set of unique strengths and opportunities. To provide the most tailored guidance, they listen first: “I think what we do best is listen. You know, we have two ears in one mouth. We always like to say we ask really important questions.”
Developing competent, inclusion-minded leaders. The Arrive, Drive Thrive Leadership Academy helps aspiring and emerging senior leaders on a journey of what it is to arrive as a leader, unlock their potential, elevate their impact, and incorporate Inclusion as a part of their overall leadership strategy and journey. The program is based off of their workbook and reference guide, Arrive. Drive Thrive.
Discovering and leveraging the power of language. Sateman Connect’s Power of Language academy takes a twist on the classic unconscious bias program that takes a deep dive into how individuals and companies use language and the impact it has in terms of identifying dimensions of diversity. They do this by helping clients break down micromessages, and how to interrupt micro-inequities and micro messages that can be subconsciously damaging.
So much more! Saterman Connect is connecting with companies by meeting them where they are to facilitate meaningful organizational connections, develop leaders, and foster belonging and inclusion. Check out their full workshop offerings here.