I hope everyone had a nice holiday season and I also wish you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! 2017 was a great year for me. I really have enjoyed and learned so much as the Diversity & Inclusion Co-Director with the Garden State Council SHRM (GSC-SHRM). This year, I am also the Diversity & Inclusion Director for the North Jersey-Rockland SHRM Chapter, as well as the GSC-SHRM 2018 Conference Social Media Chair. All good things and all offer great learning experiences.
A blog that I have wanted to write about and share was my experience facilitating the Privilege Walks that my co-director and I conducted. In October 2017, we facilitated the Privilege Walk for the Garden State Council SHRM Leadership Conference. All of the NJ SHRM leaders in New Jersey were invited and participated at the leadership conference. There are many privilege walk activity exercises to use. We used the exercise by the State University at Albany.
According to University at Albany, “the purpose of the Privilege Walk Activity is to learn to recognize how power and privilege can affect our lives even when we are not aware it is happening. The purpose is not to blame anyone for having more power or privilege or for receiving more help in achieving goals, but to have an opportunity to identify both obstacles and benefits experienced in our life.”
We facilitated eight lightning rounds, all of which gave the participants a better understanding of the purpose of the Privilege Walk. Some of the participants were not surprised with the end results, some were, and some realized just how far they have gone in life.
The key purpose of the activity is to learn, not blame, and to identify key issues. Before the exercise, we explained the purpose, and after, we discussed with those that participated how they felt and what they thought. In order for the exercise to be effective, it is extremely important to explain its purpose before the exercise and to discuss the findings after it is completed.
After the exercise, a lot of the participants wanted this to be done at the local chapter level. We were overwhelmed with the positive feedback and will be conducting the Privilege Walk at the Morris County SHRM Chapter (one of the eleven chapters in New Jersey) in January 2018.
The idea to facilitate this exercise was a YouTube video that was brought to my attention. This is a very powerful video to watch. After watching this video, I knew this was the perfect exercise to facilitate at our leadership conference.