Inclusive culture. Propulsive growth

RingCentral’s Jedd Ong on the ways we can all show up for one another.

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4 min read

Highlights:

  • Since 1970, Pride events have been held in major urban centers to improve the visibility, acceptance and legal protections for LGBTQ+ people living in those communities.
  • The theme for RingCentral’s Pride activities this year is Show Up. 

DEI drives ROI. Courage is the key.

When it comes to the ways diverse, inclusive cultures benefit the bottom line, we could drop stats on you all day. Ethnically and racially diverse companies are 35% more likely to perform better than their competitors. They’re 70 percent more likely to expand into new markets. And companies that optimize gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform others.  But people aren’t statistics. They’re big, messy bundles of ideas, emotions and experiences. We sat down with RingCentral Foundation’s Public Affairs Program Lead, Jedd Ong to talk about the more human, personal reasons diversity and inclusion drive performance, and what it means to Show Up. 

Showing up for yourself

“When I first came out as transgender a lot of my fear was that I wasn’t going to be looked at as feminine enough,” says Ong. “And I spend a lot of time learning how to do things that people consider traditionally “feminine”: doing makeup, hair, heels and there was a part of me that really did enjoy it for the two years that I did do it. But as I started to grow and embrace my femininity, I realized that the femininity that inspires me is not necessarily the traditional, long hair-makeup-beauty queen ideal, but more expansive. I wanted to explore what would it look like for me to present in that sort of way — having short hair, not wearing dresses, not wearing heels all the time. So, the way that I showed up started to change too. For me, “showing up” meant exploring the full range of my identity, and not limiting myself. Femininity is so broad, and everyone embodies it in their own unique way.”

“Brown & Gay In LA” Webinar on June 23, 2022 at 9AM PST

Dr. Anthony Christian Ocampo

As part of our ongoing Pride 2022 activities, we invite you to Show Up for a webinar featuring Dr. Anthony Ocampo discussing his new book: ” Brown and Gay in LA: Queer Sons of Immigrants Coming of Age.” Dr. Ocampo will share insights into recent research about the educational lives of second-generation gay men and the ways it may affect theories of racialization, second-generation incorporation, and educational inequality.  

Walking the vulnerability tightrope

For a workplace to truly reap the benefits of diversity and inclusion, people have to be comfortable enough with one another to be truly open, honest, and even vulnerable. For Ong, it’s a critical marker that allows a truly innovative culture to take root. “(Vulnerability) is about helping people meet you where you’re at, which is what the term #ShowUp is kind of all about. If you’re not showing up for yourself, if you’re not vulnerable with them, it’s a bit like only letting people into your home fully cleaned and perfect. That’s nice, but it’s not real, or sustainable. When you allow people to see the fullness of how you experience your life, it allows them to do the same. And that translates to everyday work, too. It could be as simple as saying “I can deliver X, but I can’t deliver Y right now.” Just that little bit of vulnerability is a good example of how “showing up” can make this a better place to work.“ 

Showing up as an ally.

According to the Center for Creative Leadership, “allyship” refers to “the actions, behaviors, and practices that leaders take to support, amplify, and advocate with others.”  For Ong, the key to truly being an ally is to take the focus off of oneself. “I think it really boils down to showing up the way people need you to and not centering on yourself.  I’ve worked in Diversity Equity and Inclusion for a long time, and my philosophy really comes from listening to the communities I’m servingbecause at the end of the day it’s about service.  My coworkers and my colleagues are my constituency, and as a diversity and inclusion practitioner, I know there are certain things that I will simply never know. So it’s important for me to listen and show up as an ally in a way that they can really receive it. I should never be telling people how they can be helped, but rather asking them how I can help them, and what can I enable for them. That’s how I believe showing up works. As an ally, you’re not showing up as yourself; you’re showing up to serve a community.”

Perfect? Never. Striving? Always. 

“Showing up” is an inherently uncomfortable thing to do. It takes courage, vulnerability, and humility — both to put ourselves out there, and realize we’ve gotten it wrong, (which we’ll do, often.) But we’re unafraid to try, because we know trying to get it right is far more important than the fear of getting it wrong. Failing to engage out of fear is as bad as failing to engage out of apathy: conversations don’t happen, mindsets don’t shift, and systems don’t change. This Pride month, we’ll celebrate the courage it takes to be vulnerable, to be an ally, to try, to fail, and above all, to #ShowUp.

Originally published Jun 01, 2022

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