Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

The Mandate for Courage



Sometimes, it’s easy for us to feel like we are harping on the same old issues in the workplace. Accordingly, we may become apprehensive about discussing certain diversity and inclusion topics, like race, gender and sexual orientation (i.e., the hot button issues). We also don’t want to be labeled as a “troublemaker” or “whiner”.

Nevertheless, we have to keep in mind that we were hired to help our organizations get it right. Looking toward the future, think about how much it will cost your organization IF certain diversity and inclusion issues are not addressed.  Lawsuits, turnover, wasted productivity, lost market share, etc., will amount to a fortune. Also, think about how you will be perceived IF you are the person of color who is afraid to talk about the most complex issue in your organization:  race. Or if you are the woman in leadership who is fearful of discussing gender equity. Or if you are gay, and you are doubtful about the benefits of gay pride in your place of business. I could go on, but you get the point.

The field of diversity and inclusion has a mandate for courage. Merriam-Webster’s defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty“. Possessing courage does not imply the absence of fear– it just means that you move forward in spite of it. The key to advancement in this field is to take your fear, feelings, and faithlessness out of the equation. Have a little confidence that your efforts will result in something good.

Courage:  it’s a mandate and an expectation for you.

By Leah Smiley

Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity, a global professional association for Diversity and Inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto

Comments on: "The Mandate for Courage" (1)

  1. Leah-
    I really appreciate your blog and your call to courage. I am in a somewhat unusual position: I am a straight, white man, dedicated to diversity and inclusion in schools. It’s amazing to me how often gatherings or discussion about diversity and inclusion are filled with everyone but people like me. I’ve heard it said that straight white men just don’t see diversity and inclusion as their work. I see it as all our work, or at least as my work.

    I hope that I can always find the courage not to speak on behalf of anyone else, but to be sure to speak up for all those marginalized within schools.

    Courage: It is my mandate too. I expect it of myself.

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