Stay Ellavated | February 2023 | Issue 27

Dr. Ella Speaks


     With Black History Month wrapping up and Women’s History Month right around the corner, I wanted to take a moment and share the work of a brilliant Black female journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones. Jones is known for her journalistic work with the New York Times including the notable 1619 Project. The 1619 Project was started in 2019 as a longform journalistic pursuit intent on highlighting the historical truths and subsequent impact of slavery in the United States. The project which was spearheaded by Jones includes essays and writing from historians and academics, a podcast, a book and a number of online resources for dialogue on the topic. Most recently, the project expanded to include a 6 episode television docu series that aired on Hulu earlier this month.

     For me, understanding history and confronting questions around the long term economic and social impact of slavery is directly tied to diversity, equity and inclusion today. As organizational leaders, we are consistently working to manage both our bottom line and our company culture as the world changes and society develops evolving ideas of equity and justice. DEI can begin to resonate like a “feel good” initiative of this generation, but in truth the history of hate and discrimination against marginalized groups significantly impacts the economic and social wellbeing of organizations today. Having an awareness of these histories allows us to recognize the holistic truth of the American story and ensure that our actions reflect an informed approach for the change we say we want to see.

     Check out the new 1619 Project docu series on Hulu and engage your curiosity, ask questions and hold space for both learning and perspective sharing.


With DEI in Mind,

Dr. Ella   

The Necessary Journey


Your Working Life Podcast

     Check out Dr. Washington’s episode on the Your Working Life Podcast as she discusses The Necessary Journey and the need for transparency and bolder action for DEI initiatives in companies around the world with host Caroline Dowd-Higgins.

     Remember that you can still purchase your copy of Dr. Washington's book The Necessary Journey: Making Real Progress on Equity and Inclusion. If you have already purchased your copy, be sure to leave a review!

Ellavated Learning

Ellavated Learning: Developing a Global DEI Approach

By: Hildana Haileyesus 

     For many companies, developing a DEI strategy and rolling it out to an office of employees is in itself a delicate and challenging process- so what are global organizations to do!? When we think and talk about DEI and strategy, we tend to lean on the U.S context for discussing issues. We prioritize race and gender in many cases and often hold conversations in a black/white binary. In addition to this our focus often ends up being on hiring “more diverse candidates” without always giving much thought to how exactly we can define diversity. We miss the breadth of marginalized perspectives and identities our organizations can benefit from and overlook how diversity can look different in the global space. While there is nothing wrong with this initial approach, we must consider the implications of a narrowly scoped strategy when it is being rolled out to a global organization.

     The histories of discrimination along with the principles of patriarchy and white supremacy exist across the globe in various forms, but this does not mean that they show up in the same way in all countries and cultures. Therefore it is vital that the DEI strategies organizations build are inclusive of the numerous global lenses that exist within the organization. So how exactly does this come to life? A strong approach to DEI begins with a firm and clear mission and vision from the leaders of the organization. The most senior leaders should develop a collective vision for who they want to be in the coming years. This vision should be broad and inclusive and be rooted in the values of the organization. For example, your vision might be to become an industry leader in employee inclusion or to center equity as a key pillar of all business functions. Because this vision will be the guide of the subsequent DEI strategy, it is key that leaders are aligned and clear on the message and intention.

     Once the vision across senior leaders is aligned, the organization can develop a strategy for DEI with their global population in mind by identifying common areas of improvement or shared business functions.  For example, an organization might determine that supplier diversity, excellence in employee inclusion and mentorship are the areas of focus for the company across all functions. With this directive, local leaders must then develop their own strategy on how to focus on these areas in the way that is most effective for their region or business unit. This is different from a leadership team determining that ALL employees must be assigned a randomized mentor for 6 months as part of their strategy. Why? Because there may be certain costumes across the globe that impact how employees relate to each other based on gender, age, religion or otherwise. Allowing local leaders to determine the best approach for their teams, with the vision from senior leadership as a north star, allows for a global strategy to exist with a localized approach. By focusing thematically on what is key to the business across the board, a localized approach allows for alignment without the challenges of culturally incompetent policies. Additionally, a strong localized strategy allows for greater buy-in for the roll out of the strategy as employees recognize the customized and relevant approach rather than a large corporate directive that might feel out of touch.

     Whether you lead a global organization or a national corporation, consider your DEI strategy and how inclusive it is of your various markets? Are your business leaders empowered to customize the company strategy or are there challenges with executing that remain roadblocks to the success of your approach? Remember DEI is both top down and bottom up. Once you have set the vision, it is important that the actions and policies are impactful for everyone from your senior managers to your most frontline employees.

4 Best Practices for Managing Up

     Organizations often focus leadership development on managing direct reports but what about the reverse? Can direct reports manage their senior relationships to impact the work of their teams? The answer is yes and this approach is defined as managing up. Managing up is a skill direct reports can develop in order to create value for their manager through attention, awareness and a positive working relationship. Managing up consists of learning and understanding your manager or boss in a capacity that allows you both to execute strong outcomes and creates avenues of success. Managing up is not about telling your boss what to do or being in charge of their work, it is finding opportunities to help your boss succeed by taking initiative in spaces where they need support or you have targeted interest in order to better execute on the goals of the organization and to improve both of your working experiences. Here are 4 actions you can take to manage up in your role.

  • Work to understand you and your manager’s ideal communication style. Take the time to learn your manager and get to know them. Understand how they work, how they communicate and what their management style is. As you develop this relationship, help them understand and learn your work traits as well. Having this mutual understanding allows for an empathy driven relationship by which you can both establish strong communication and partnership. 

  • Align on the goals and vision of your team and manager. It is important to understand what your manager’s goals are in order to support them. Having formal and informal conversations on this topic and asking clarifying questions regularly can help develop your awareness so that you can position your work to produce results that contribute to the team’s goals and not just the asks of a task. 

  • Anticipate needs and offer support. As you develop an awareness of your leader’s goals and learn their working and leading style, you can manage up by taking initiative and providing support in areas where there are gaps. This is the difference between “Let me know if you need anything” and “Would you like support in drafting this proposal?” 

  • Communicate challenges early. Finally, part of managing up is helping your leader avoid being blindsided. Leaders can only triage issues they are aware of and if you sense a roadblock coming or realize you have made a mistake, communicate quickly so that the appropriate support can be provided. It can feel uncomfortable to admit a mistake or to highlight a challenge but remember that you are part of a team and your leader is there to offer guidance and support in those very times.


Learn More

DEI in Action: Celebrating Black History Month

     As Black History Month comes to a close, we will highlight some of the impactful programs and initiatives organizations have engaged with in the past to celebrate and commemorate Black culture and history. There are so many ways to celebrate Black History and it doesn’t have to be confined to the month of February. Consider some of these organizational actions to inspire your own DEI efforts throughout the year.

  1. UPS Highlighted their History: As a way to commemorate the contributions of African Americans at UPS, the company published a book highlighting the stories of past employees starting with Kan Jarvis- the first recorded African American driver who also became the first African American to enter corporate level management. The book is called Black Voices from Big Brown: Untold Stories of African Americans at UPS and incorporates a multimedia initiative which includes video stories and a podcast.

  1. Salesforce Hosted a Conversation: As a way to educate employees about the work of civil rights leaders and the message of activists, Salesforce hosted a conversation between the president of their Black ERG and activist DeRay McKessan on the importance of systemic change and the evolution of the civil rights movement. 

  1. Dentsu Provided Resources for Activating on Anti-Racism: In an effort to emphasize action, Dentsu created a calendar for Black History Month of micro-actions employees can take each day to engage in anti-racist efforts. The calendar has been included for your viewing below- consider how you might be able to apply these actions year round within your own teams. Dentsu Microactions Calendar 


Learn More

Publications and Podcasts


Ella F. Washington on Building Stronger Workplace Cultures

     Check out Dr. Washington’s written interview with Vivaldi on building stronger workplace cultures as she discusses the evolution of DEI over the last few year, the impact on the employee experience and how organizations can use the DEI maturity model to support their progress.  

Service Spotlight

     As you plan for upcoming DEI events and company wide engagements, consider Ellavate for a customized and timely keynote on the topics that most interest your organization. 

     Dr. Washington is a dynamic and engaging speaker and facilitator. As a culture and DEI thought leader, she brings insights and 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 keynote format provides a shared audience experience for teams or organizations on a range of topics and themes. From diving into “Microaggressions” and “Inclusive Leadership” to “Leading Your Organization Through Breaking News Cycles”, there are a wide range of topics and themes to engage your workforce and empower culture growth.
Elevating Diversity.
Cultivating Equity.
Embracing Inclusion.
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