Charting the Course to a More Equitable and Inclusive Society
In celebration of Black History Month, Leica Biosystems hosted a conversation with the co-chairs of the LBS Black Coalition for Diversity & Inclusion (BCD&I): Julia Luciano-Chadee (Marketing Manager), Lawrence Patton (Field Applications Specialist) and Ron Williams (Market Development Manager).
The BCD&I leaders explored the group’s purpose and explained how to get involved, shared perspectives about Black History Month and provided ideas to foster a global culture of allyship across the company. This post features excerpts of that conversation, edited for clarity and brevity.
BCD&I Welcomes All Associates
Founded a year ago, BCD&I has a mission to advance unity, diversity and inclusion at Leica Biosystems and a vision to promote diversity and inclusion through active empowerment, development and networking for professional and personal growth.
“We came together organically to create and support one another as we’ve all faced challenges,” noted Lawrence Patton. “We recognize there is a lot to learn from colleagues, such as Eunice Walker, who have been trailblazers in the company over many years, even as we formalize how the group supports individuals and advances diversity and inclusion more broadly across LBS and society.”
Currently, BCD&I meets monthly with a two-part focus: supporting each members’ individual professional development and creating a BCD&I action plan. The group is also working with LBS leadership to determine how best to engage all of LBS. For example, the group is considering a reverse mentorship program in which a BCD&I member is paired with a LBS senior leader so the BCD&I member can mentor the executive about diversity topics.
Celebrating Black American Contributions to Society
The BCD&I leaders acknowledge that the month of February -- Black History Month in the United States -- offers a timely opportunity to expand conversations about Black history and current experiences, to celebrate cultural contributions and to provoke forward movement towards inclusion.
“Black History Month is important because it's American history,” Ron said. “If we want to understand the American experience and where we've come from and where we're headed, it's important to understand what that looks like for all Americans.”
Lawrence concurred, “Black history is a celebration of Black culture and contributions to the U.S. and the world. It captures the full experience, which includes a lot of joy in it as well as the pain and suffering associated with slavery. Thinking about it in this way makes me very present to the movement of change we’re seeing in the Black community.”
Though Black History Month originated in the United States it is now recognized globally by countries including Canada, the Netherlands, the UK and Ireland, providing the opportunity to advance the conversation worldwide. “It's really about using this moment in time to surface important topics on a broader scale to chart the course for societal changes that are equitable, inclusive, and can be felt through generations to come,” Julia added. “In doing so, we recognize the impact that black America brings to our society, to the United States, and into the world.”
Realizing Life’s Potential through Allyship
Allyship is central to advancing diversity and inclusion at scale.
“Allyship is a practice of emphasizing social justice inclusion and human rights by members of an in-group to advance the interests of an oppressed or marginalized outgroup,” Lawrence explained. “The roots of allyship exist at LBS in that we work collaboratively together around the world. Now, we have the opportunity to build on the broad tenets of collaboration to advance allyship.”
The BCD&I leaders agree on three actions associates can take to advance allyship at LBS:
- Stay current on what’s going on in the world to educate yourself;
- Keep an open mind to receive information about diverse experiences;
- Ask questions. Ron suggests starting by inquiring: Are Black people treated fairly? What are the barriers you see for Black people? Where can I make a change to address fairness and reduce or remove barriers?
The responsibility lies with each of us to do our part to catalyze change.