Positions of Power and How You Can B the Change

In our most honest moments we admit we are not perfect, and much of our imperfection is how we interact with those around us. While we might not identify as a racist, sexist, ageist, anything negative person- the reality is we all have conscious and unconscious biases that bleed through to our everyday personal and professional moments.

It is hard to make language inclusive, I mean who can really speak for All? And what bothers me might not bother you. Go around the room and have everyone say a phrase or word that bothers them and I bet you will find a few that surprise you. Or tell me your definition of ‘natural’, ‘space’, or ‘sustainable’ and while we both are likely to “understand” the words, our exact way of defining them vary.  Through this acceptance of diverse perspectives and openness we can create an environment that is welcoming and brings about the chance for interactions of inclusivity.

So maybe your job applications aren’t perfect- have you had everyone in your company, or even current interviewees, give feedback? What about the pre-qualification for a job that cuts out potential applicants who are more enthusiastic and quick learners? And check your website compatibility is one insight from Lora Lederman of Scream Agency- is there ADA accessibility? Translations that are correct in other languages? Maybe you are unintentionally not even letting some folks have the chance to see your application.  

The need for a common definition of all words is ideal, but let’s start with the four key words to this conversation, provided by Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler of the Equity Project LLC:

  • Diversity
    Describes the richness and beauty of the differences of all of us.

  • Inclusion
    Describes what we DO with our diversity; how we leverage skills, abilities and talents of others. This must be a win-win for ALL.

  • Equality
    Is about providing access-to-all, level-setting, sameness.

  • Equity
    Describes a system where everyone can thrive; people get what they need. Equity is about economic justice, health, education, the justice system; must be in the structures of all our systems

Acknowledgement of what we know and what we don’t and when we are triggered is key for your DEIE growth. Especially in those heightened moments, take a moment to pause and feel your body and connect it with what is going on in your mind. Bias is both conscious and unconscious so journaling about your moments can be very transformative. Exploring your state of fear (based on actual experience) vs. trait of fear (based on perceived danger) can help bring truth to the moment. If you can’t readily identify these moments in your life, Whitney Hales-Heap of Unreasonable Group recommends watching content from Seed&Spark to help broaden your horizon. Unreasonable Group is a global company looking to continue expansion, so being aware of other’s perspective is key to their core functions.

Are you able to recognize different perspectives of power and how they present in the real world? Some sources of power as identified by French & Raven back in 1959:

  • Legitimate Power
    Power based on title, position or rank

  • Expert Power
    Power based on skills, abilities and knowledge

  • Referent Power
    Power based on reciprocity or mutual respect

  • Reward Power
    Power based on the ability to give and take away rewards

  • Coercive Power
    Power based on the ability to punish

How is power manifesting itself in your personal life? In your work environment? Osmia, a skincare company from Carbondale, excels through referent power and reward power in providing excellent benefits to their employees and empowering them to feel covered in any of life’s financial turmoils. Community involvement is where Danone North America (largest B Corp in the world!) puts much of it effort in a goal to reduce coercive and legitimate power, which turns out to not be so legitimate.

“Lean in to discomfort” guides Pete Dignan from Ever Better, PBC a strategic consultant for business. It is easy to turn away to something when we are not confident, but by pushing yourself you WILL grow. And as you grow, always stay humble and kind with your expertise.

All four DEIE words intersect and support each other. As a result,  work will always be needed on all four both separately and together, an insight Anne Behouli will emphasize. Anne works with Best for Colorado through the Alliance Center and is charged with helping companies take a look at what they can be doing on all fronts to be a better corporate citizen. A good start to a company’s DEIE journey is to map out your community definition of each of them, what you are currently doing well, and what ideas you have to move forward.

We hope these insights help you along your journey and invite you to share your experience and tips too.


Laura Isanuk

Community Outreach Chair