As a heterosexual white male in America, I have not been subjected to many of the challenges that so many others have. In fact, it’s more likely that I have both knowingly and unknowingly been a part of the problem in the past. These days, I find myself always looking to do better, both for myself and for those who I encounter, and writing this post helped me to think about ways that I can improve.
I have so many people in my life whom I love who have experienced discrimination because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, age, weight and more. I owe it to each of them to help in whatever way I can.
With all that said, my hope is that I can provide a useful way of thinking for someone out there who wants to do better and is not sure how. So, here are five things that anyone can do to make life better for those facing discrimination:
1. Seek to be a part of the solution. The first step in making a change is realizing that a change needs to be made. Being indifferent to the plight of others is not acceptable. By shifting your mindset to becoming a proactive part of the solution, you will begin to see things differently, and your actions will follow suit. I have family members in the LGBTQ+ community, which opened my ears to the types of insensitive language they are exposed to every day. It has made me more sensitive to the language I use and to the language I tolerate from others in my daily conversations. It’s only a small change that I made, but hopefully, it helps someone else to feel more comfortable and welcome in my presence.
2. Do not be afraid to think - and talk - differently. It is easy to think that the way we’ve always done things must be correct. It takes more courage to question those teachings and our firmly held beliefs and to realize that those beliefs may be harmful to others around us. If we are going to make an impact, we have to be willing to think differently and to speak up when the time is right. Once again, having a family member “come out” opened my family’s eyes to the folly of being indifferent to the situation of others. We realized that sexual orientation is not a choice, and that is not OK to judge others for their orientation. Since then, it’s become very important to my entire family that we share this concept with others.
3. Develop a mindset of abundance. I’m convinced that many of the challenges we face come from a deep-seated fear in many people that if someone else’s position in life improves, my life will worsen. Nothing could be further from the truth. As soon as we realize that a rising tide lifts all ships, we can start the process of making everyone else’s life better knowing that our own life will improve as a result.
4. Educate yourself on the topic of bias. None of us think we are biased, but studies have shown that everyone pre-judges situations based on how and where we were raised. Often, our biases are implicit - meaning they happen without our conscious knowledge. I strongly recommend reading more about implicit biases and understanding how we can recognize them in ourselves and others, along with knowing the ways we can minimize the impact of our biases on others. Feel free to check your own biases here.
5. Realize that everyone is struggling. It’s easy to think that our own lives are in disarray while everyone else is happy, healthy and wise. However, we are all on this journey together, and it would do us all good to realize that we’re all doing our best to make a future for ourselves and our loved ones. Lend a hand when you can, and realize that even a smile, a kind word or a listening ear can lift someone else up when they are down. Even small acts of kindness can make a big difference.
The journey of 1,000 miles starts with the first step. So my last piece of advice is to simply get started making a positive difference today. Small changes will compound over time, and together we can make the world a more inclusive place for everyone.
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As the Chief Revenue Officer at KaiNexus, Jeff Roussel is responsible for all aspects of sales, marketing, and customer experience. He is fanatical about building a team that demonstrates the business value and fit of the KaiNexus solutions. With more than 25 years of sales and leadership experience in enterprise software, Jeff brings a wealth of guidance to our growing company and market. Prior to KaiNexus, Jeff was one of the first enterprise directors at Spredfast, helping organizations create great social media experiences for their customers. Previously, he was a sales engineer and an account executive at Invodo and Postini, the latter of which was acquired by Google in 2007. Jeff also maintained a position on the board of advisors for the Austin-based social media agency Social Distillery. A Texan by choice, Jeff maintains his Louisiana roots with a love of cooking, and he spends his free time with his wife and three step-kids. Jeff has an MBA from St. Edwards University in Austin and a bachelor of science from Louisiana State University (LSU).