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Companies are releasing statements denouncing discrimination and embracing equality – in jest or for real?

Being an Alaska Native woman – I learn the hard way – which is the only way available to me and people like me. 

As a “person of color” i.e. the latest description of people like me; I expect more than public statements. 

Are companies disseminating these Open Letters to mitigate the risk of losing customers by not publicly releasing such a no-brainer statement? 

As I said, I’ve learned the hard way. 

Anyone can make a statement.  But what are they going to do about it?

I want to see their action plan, their implementation strategy, and how will change in their company be sustained? How will it change the corporate culture?

How can I, and others like me, be able to measure the success or failure of these broad statements so easily crafted and publicized by companies?

Who is included in crafting the change vision and who is empowered?

I experienced being told by the National Guard that I tested so high on their test that I could do anything I wanted in the military, and that “for a native” they were surprised with my test scores.

I was 19. I was pissed off walking out of there. These folks were sincere and without ill-will. But they did not recognize how their words were so highly offensive.

I expect more. If company’s want to be applauded for these Open Letters, I want to see their investment and I want to see their action plans to create sustained corporate culture change.

I understand that these are good intentions, but who is empowered to point out the nuances and weaknesses needing change in their organization?

Statements on paper about commitments like these mean nothing without real action for change.

The obvious and first bottleneck I anticipate is that the “people of color” may sanitize the weaknesses in that organization when they are brought in to discussions at their place of employment.

Companies truly committed to these statements will be the ones learning the hard way.

There is no other way. There is only the hard way when it comes to human behavior.

By Trudy Sobocienski

My blog, "Beyond Leadership" is a creative place to share my personal feelings and thoughts while working in leadership roles for a variety of Alaska Native organizations, both for and not-for profit entities.

An incredible leader and mentor of mine once asked while we were in Washington, DC, "What happened to you between the ages of 7-10 that motivated you to serve in a native leadership capacity". I was struck by that poignant thought and as such, include actual entries from my mother and my diaries beginning in the early 1970's.

I enjoy sharing these excerpts because it captures the parallels she and I were experiencing throughout life, from two separate worldviews. Hers as a young mother of four and mine as her eldest child.
I have never came across a book on leadership that lays bare a leaders personal feelings, thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams they were experiencing.

So for me, my goal is two-fold:

1. Share the incredible life my parents created for my siblings and I growing up in remote Alaska; and,

2) Sharing my humanity, through my personal diaries and journals, while serving as the youngest-ever President/CEO for the Alaska Native Health Board.

There are passages that will include significant policy issues I was working on throughout my career and travels. There are many more passages that do not.

I cannot speak for my mom's passages, because I am reading them as I share them here, with you; with her permission of course.

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