Stay Ellavated | May 2022 | Issue 17

Dr. Ella Speaks

     Last weekend, a tragedy struck the community in Buffalo, NY when a man traveled 3 hours from his home to carry out a racially motivated mass shooting in a supermarket- killing 10 people. Mere days later, Texas faced another tragedy when a shooting took place at Robb Elementary School killing 19 children and 2 adults. These events are not isolated or rare occurrences, but it is sickening all the same. My heart goes out to these communities and all who have lost friends and loved ones. 

     In moments like these, it can feel difficult to move forward with the needs or requirements of our day-to-day life. Even going to work, smiling at your colleagues, or making a joke can feel like a trying feat. This is why it is so important in these difficult times to make sure to check in on each other's wellness. May is mental health awareness month, but mental wellness is something that takes daily nurturing and especially when tragedy strikes. 

     Last year I co-authored an article on Talking to your Team about the Violence at the Capitol and similar incidents. There are a few key messages from this article that I would like to specifically call out:

  • Political views may vary but there is no tolerance for the spreading of disinformation, racism, or violence.
  • Each team member’s context is unique. It is vital that we have empathy for the experiences and perspectives of others- especially when they are different from our own. 

As you continue to push forth in your workweek, there are three things that I’d like to leave you with for managing these types of tragic situations: 

  1. Create space and acknowledge the events. 

  2. Communicate the importance of everyone’s wellness to your organization, and 

  3. Remind employees of the wellness benefits or share some recommended best practices such as making sure to block time during the day for meals. 

     As we make our way through mental health awareness month and look forward to Pride and Juneteenth, I hope that you all consider the importance of being well in the work of DEI.


With DEI in Mind,

Dr. Ella

The Necessary Journey

Join us for our 2nd Annual Ellavate Juneteenth Benefit Celebration!

Named after Dr. Ella F. Washington's first book publication by Harvard Business Review Press, "The Necessary Journey: Making Real Progress on Equity" ,this signature charity event will highlight the history of Juneteenth and its impact on Black Americans. The celebratory luncheon will feature remarks from our dynamic keynote speaker, Michelle Ghee. Ghee is CEO of the iconic black media brands: EBONY and Jet. The Gallup Center on Black Voices will join us in sharing the latest data on African Americans in the U.S. We will discuss the challenges, triumphs, and opportunities in an ever-changing DEI landscape. Live music will be provided by local group: Future Band DC.

Tickets for virtual and in person attendance are now available for purchase! Follow this link to secure yours today! 

Pre-orders of the book are available now for purchase! "The Necessary Journey: Making Real Progress on Equity and Inclusion"

Ellavated Learning

Ellavated Learning: Keeping Wellness in Mind
By: Hildana Haileyesus 

     Over the past 5 years, discussions around mental health in the workplace have increased significantly. Conversations have shifted from stigmatizing to standardizing mental wellness. A 2022 SHRM report found that 78% of surveyed organizations offer mental health resources or will be offering them in the coming year. Mental health resources range anywhere from meditation and yoga app subscriptions to therapy services and wellness workshops.

     Despite these numerous well intentioned efforts, it seems that organizations may still be lacking in their impact on the employee experience. A 2021 study found that 80% of employers felt their company culture had reduced stigma around mental health in the last year but only 59% of employees felt this was true. This gap is significant because while many organizations are patting themselves on the back for their mental health programs or events, they are failing to see that their employees are looking for real action and change. 

     The growing pressures of the workforce along with the persisting challenge of the pandemic have not been kind to people’s wellness. We saw the Great Resignation and the impact that work-life balance and flexibility have had on the decisions of workers to leave their jobs. The research also shows us that Millennials are experiencing depression at a rate 250% higher than their Baby Boomer parents. 

     What this data tells us is that there are still missing elements to workplace culture where mental health is concerned. Wellness is not only important to the success of a business, but to the success of any DEI goal as well. Just as we discuss the inequities that exist in healthcare, there are also inequities in the experiences of mental wellness across marginalized communities. Organizations can not simply speak on the importance of mental health and then fail to apply these principles in the office. As much as leaders wish to lead by a “do what I say, not what I do” mentality, employees take their cues from their leaders as actions often speak louder than words. 

       If your company has unlimited paid time off but no one uses it, it can add pressure to new employees to do the same. If there are allocated mental health days or breaks and managers violate them by working, it can signal to employees that the company values productivity over people. Take a moment and consider your personal wellness practices. Do your direct reports know how you care for yourself or how important you consider wellness to be? Do you know how your direct reports take care of their wellness? These conversations are important in order to destigmatize mental health. In the coming weeks, challenge yourself to have one conversation with at least one employee about wellness practices in the workplace.

Best Practice: 7 Ways to Support Your Team Through a National Incident

We opened this newsletter discussing the impact of incidents like the recent mass shootings we have seen in New York and Texas. When something like that takes place, employees are not exempt from being mentally affected and experiencing challenges during the days that follow. As a colleague, direct report or manager, you can support your co-workers in these 7 ways as outlined by Dr. Washington in an HBR that she co-authored.

  1. Create space. Let your team know that the crisis has been on your mind and you want to give them time and a venue (even if it’s virtual) to express their feelings about what’s happened. Clarify that it’s also okay to not discuss it if they prefer.

  2. Acknowledge. Show that you understand how difficult it can be to process traumatic events.

  3. Affirm. Demonstrate that you are taking in individual perspectives.

  4. Personalize. Share your own authentic reactions but don’t make assumptions or generalizations about how others feel.

  5. Offer support. Let your team know you stand ready to help them today and going forward.

  6. Reinforce values. Remind people of your personal and your organization’s commitment to employee wellbeing, democratic values, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  7. Highlight resources. Point people to your organization’s DEI and mental health support groups and programs, as well as online guides to external help.

DEI in Action

Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, or AAPI for short, recognizes the presence and contributions of the Asian and Pacific Islander community to and in the U.S. May was donned AAPI Heritage Month in 1992 to recognize the month when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the U.S (May 1843) and to acknowledge the month that the transatlantic railroad was completed as a nod to Jeanie Jew. Jeanie Jew, the advocate who fought for AAPI month for 15 years, had a grandfather who worked on the railroad. Below we see what different organizations did to celebrate AAPI month in 2021:

  • LogMeIn: Hosted a discussion about workplace authenticity with Jerry Won(Dear Asian Americans Podcast host), a virtual cooking class with Asian refugees and  a virtual volunteer career development event for young women across Asia.

  • Freddie Mac: Supported their Asian Business Resource Group as they hosted a “Stop Asian Hate” Lunch and Learn for the organization to discuss the challenges that the AAPI community faces along with a fireside chat with Asian leaders at the company on racial injustice

  • Facebook: Hosted a racial healing learning session with a focus on trauma, the body’s physical and emotional responses to it and the relevance it has to the AAPI experience. The workshop focused on providing attendees with tactical tools for long term self care/


Cultural Competence Podcast

Check out Dr. Ella F. Washington’s episode entitled "Working Through a Capitol Insurrection"

There are moments in history when you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing -- and for many of us, these events unfold while we are at work. What does this mean for our productivity? And how should employers respond? Hosts Camille Lloyd and Dr. Ella Washington discuss last year’s storming of the U.S. Capitol and how events like these affect employees and employers alike. 

Additionally, read Dr. Washington’s recently published HBR article on microaggressions titled: Recognizing and Responding to Microaggressions at Work This is an expansion of the article she authored previously on microaggressions in the workplace and dives deeper in providing tactical advice in identifying, handling and growing from microaggressions. 

Service Spotlight: Ted Talk( The Necessary Journey)

     Dr. Washington is a dynamic and engaging speaker and facilitator. As a culture and D&I thought leader, she brings leadership insights along with practical tools to inspire and motivate audiences of all sizes. Dr. Washington has spoken at large and small-scale leadership conferences and retreats. She has spoken for Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and government agencies. The Ted Talk format allows speakers to share their perspectives and expertise in an engaged and narrative-based format that takes listeners on a journey.  Dr. Washington's talk on The Necessary Journey brings to life the key components of the DEI journey that are outlined in her first book publication: The Necessary Journey: Making Real Progress on Equity and Inclusion


     Ellavate Solutions offers keynote options for those interested in a shared audience experience for their teams or organizations on a range of topics and themes. Please find the link here for more information on Ted Talk styles of presenting.
Elevating Diversity.
Cultivating Equity.
Embracing Inclusion.
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