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The Path to Belonging: Insights from Dr. Nika White’s 11th Annual Greater Des Moines Partnership Inclusion Summit Address


By Katherine Harrington, President & CEO | West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce

In a world where Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts are both lauded and criticized, Dr. Nika White’s recent CEO roundtable and speech at the 11th annual Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Inclusion Summit left attendees with a profound sense of purpose. With a focus on belonging, her speech delved into the transformative power of authentic inclusion and the steps needed to create lasting change.

Valuable Work:

Dr. White began by emphasizing the value of DEI work, acknowledging the ongoing criticism it faces. She reminded the audience that this work is not only important but also essential for creating inclusive workplaces and communities.

Becoming Ambassadors:

“We are ambassadors,” Dr. White declared, urging the audience to take ownership of the change-making process. She stressed the importance of moving beyond mere activity to effect genuine transformation.

Proactive Thinking and Creativity:

Dr. White highlighted the link between proactive thinking and a higher level of creativity. She underscored the difference between impactful actions and mere activities.

Genuine Authenticity:

To foster inclusivity, she emphasized the importance of genuine and authentic engagement. It’s not just about intent but also about the impact of our actions.

Moving Toward Action:

Dr. White urged the audience to move toward action, emphasizing a human-centered approach in designing DEI initiatives. The goal is to engage everyone, not just some, in the journey towards belonging.

Centering Voices:

She stressed the importance of centering voices and ensuring that DEI efforts benefit all members of the community. The aim is to minimize resistance and create an inclusive culture.

Owning It:

“Have a plan on the front end, and don’t be afraid to own it,” Dr. White advised. She emphasized the power of clarity and the importance of taking responsibility for DEI initiatives.

Intent vs. Impact:

Dr. White discussed the significance of distinguishing between intent and impact. She encouraged clarity and taking time to pause and reflect.

Bringing Others Along:

“Don’t be afraid to call in a behavior, not just a person,” she suggested. Dr. White emphasized the importance of helping others grow and fostering a sense of belonging for all.

Tolerance and Endings:

“What you tolerate, you continue,” she noted, referencing Henry Cloud’s book “Necessary Endings.” She encouraged organizations to hold cultural events and create metrics for accountability.

Changing Hearts:

Dr. White challenged the audience to focus on changing hearts, even when the path ahead seems challenging. The work of inclusion is not easy, but it’s necessary.

Belonging as a Gift:

She emphasized that belonging is a gift that everyone deserves, and it’s essential for individuals to operate at their highest potential.

The Belonging Advantage:

Dr. White explained that the belonging advantage is the gateway to humanity and the byproduct of inclusion. She discussed the challenges to achieve belonging and how resistance often stems from a lack of clarity.

Embrace Discomfort:

“It is through our discomfort that we grow,” she reminded the audience. Dr. White stressed that everyone has influence, no matter their position, and they should use it for positive change.

Leading Courageously:

To lead is to live dangerously, according to Dr. White. She encouraged attendees to be bold, courageous, and committed to prioritizing people.

Dr. Nika White’s presence at the Inclusion Summit served as a call to action. It highlighted the importance of authenticity, clarity, and human-centered approaches in the journey towards belonging. Her words resonated with the audience, reminding them that they have the power to make a difference and create inclusive cultures in their workplaces and communities. Now, let’s be bold and courageous, lead and live dangerously.

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