Whose job is it to lead the charge of dismantling and reversing centuries of assumptions and bias in our society?
That’s a question retail leaders were asked at the 2022 Women in Retail Leadership Summit during a courageous conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
Jasmine Bellamy, vice president of merchandising, planning and allocation at Reebok, took the Summit stage with Rick Holifield, principal consultant at MRH Consulting Group, for the first ever in-person Courageous Conversations, which they first launched virtually and internally at Reebok.
“Courageous conversations is really about a space that allows us to wrestle with the challenging issues of race, of gender, of identity,” Bellamy said. “It’s a place where we can come to this space with grace and patience for each other, and compassion, and we learn from each other through hearing each other’s narratives and stories.”
At one point in the conversation, Bellamy and Holifield were asked to address concerns about whose responsibility it is to address those challenging issues of race, gender, identity, and other identifiers we bring to work and make assumptions about.
“I think oftentimes what happens in this work is we want somebody else to do something,” Bellamy said. “We can’t change you, but we give you an invitation to come into a courageous conversation. What we hope to happen in that conversation is that in community, you actually find strength to do things you wouldn’t feel you had the courage to do on your own.”
Holifield said in every situation there are four types of people: the target, the perpetrator, the bystander, and the ally. By choosing to be an ally, you’re choosing to the do the work — even if that means just leaning into the conversation. He said just because you’re doing the work doesn’t mean you have to completely dive in, at least not right away. You can start by dipping your toe in the water .
“This is all of our work, and it’s work that must be done,” said Holifield. “We shouldn’t leave it to chance.”
Bellamy said it’s not about calling people out, it’s about calling people in to do the work.
“At the end of the day, you don’t need anybody to call you an ally to do the right thing when nobody else is looking,” she said.
Women in Retail Leadership Circle members can view Bellamy and Holifield’s full discussion from the Women in Retail Leadership Summit on-demand here. Not a member? Apply today to get access to all the sessions from the Summit and other Women in Retail Leadership Circle events.