Racial Equality Consultant To Speak At Multi-Cultural Leadership Graduation | WGLT

Racial Equality Consultant To Speak At Multi-Cultural Leadership Graduation

Apr 18, 2017

Dr. Kira Hudson-Banks working with a student during her time at Illinois Wesleyan University.
Credit Mark Featherly

St. Louis University associate professor of psychology Dr. Kira Hudson-Banks says one argument for being inclusive in a workplace is a moral one. It's the right thing to do. But being inclusive also has a bottom line argument.

"There's been research that a corporation with diversity and inclusion integrated into their strategic plan actually performs better, they have a greater profit," said Hudson-Banks.

When she speaks April 22 at the Multicultural Leadership program's Class of 2017 graduation celebration at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center, Hudson-Banks will speak about leadership courage and its role in active inclusion. 

"On the one hand it takes courage to be a leader that demands inclusion," said Hudson-Banks. "Beyond inclusion, it does take courage to be an effective leader."

She added that being a leader in general often means that person has a target on their back. At her April 22 address, she'll touch on the extra courage needed by leaders to bring inclusion into the group dynamic, because inclusiveness is an intentional act, which can magnify the target on that leaders back. 

"Having people from different groups numerically doesn't make inclusion happen," said Hudson-Banks. "It takes intentional policies, procedures, norms, and cultural dynamics to make that happen."

Having said that, Hudson-Banks said when consulting with emerging leaders, she starts by getting leaders to understand their own biases and how they have been socialized to view different groups of people.

"The reason I argue that is often when I come in to consult people, they say 'ok tell me what to do, tell me what not to do, give me the checklist.' My argument is to work myself out of a job. That I can help you think and have the skills and the awareness to not need me anymore. That there's a way in which it's not a matter of coming in and telling you what to do, and what NOT to do. But helping you have the  self-awareness as an individual and the institutional awareness that you can guide your own answers and guide your way through the process." said Hudson-Banks. 

Though the words "race" and "religion" quickly come to mind for many when hearing the word "inclusion," Hudson-Banks offered a gender dynamic when giving an example, and how lack of institutional awareness can factor into that. That example focused on how an organization may be well represented by women, but not at the executive level. In that case, she attempts to get presumably male leaders to see the issue from a women's perspective.

"What are some of the barriers to advancement, and what are some of our policies or norms that might exclude women from rising to the level of leadership?" asked Hudson-Banks.

For example, golf has been used historically by men as a place to make business deals. Women have often been excluded from those opportunities to be interactive with a boss, which gave men a leg up on their female peers.

"We're actually creating this climate where it's ok to give disproportionate time with leadership," said Hudson-Banks.."So it's not to say that you can't go play golf, but how can we be more inclusive as to who we invite to play golf? Or as a leader, do I also make sure that not only do I play golf with some folks, but maybe I intentionally sit down and have lunch with others? Or maybe I engage in some other activity with others, so I'm not unintentionally giving attention and more mentoring to one group."   

Dr. Kira Hudson Banks is the keynote speaker at the Multicultural Leadership Program’s Class of 2017 Graduation Celebration April 22 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.n. in the Brown Ballroom inside the Bone Student Center at Illinois State University.

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