October is Global Diversity Awareness Month

By Adrienne Bryant, CAE, (She/Her) posted 10-20-2022 04:57 PM

October is Global Diversity Awareness Month
Sign Showing We Welcome Everyone
Photo by Brittani Burns on Unsplash
When 2022 Diversity Advancement Committee Chair, Steven J. Ramirez found out that October is Global Diversity Awareness Month (h/t to @Mr. Alex Rutherford, CCXP), he knew this was a great opportunity to showcase committee members and their diverse perspectives as a way of sharing why this month is important, globally. Taking our lead from the National Events Council, we posed many of the same questions to our committee members and asked them to share their thoughts. 
What do you believe people are not seeing when it comes to diversity?
Answering this question literally, there are many invisible differences that each of us have... differences that make it more challenging to get by in the world we live in, differences that make us feel like we don't belong, differences that create challenges to overcome, differences that build strengths we might not have otherwise found within ourselves. I suspect that every single one of us can think of a time we felt like we didn't belong because of some way in which we were different. I will share a personal example. Over four decades ago, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune condition where the pancreas fails to produce insulin, the hormone the body uses to allow sugar to enter cells and produce energy. As a young person, unless I was observed injecting insulin from a syringe or caught in a dangerous shaky low with cloudy thoughts, it wasn't obvious that I had a disability.

From the American Diabetes Association: Specifically, federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, protect qualified individuals with a disability. Since 2009, amendments and regulations for these laws make clear that diabetes is a disability since it substantially limits the function of the endocrine system. This internal limitation is enough—no outside limitation is necessary. This means diabetes can be an "invisible" disability.)

As a mindful adult with an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring, my diabetes control is relatively good, but never perfect because of all the variables and the interaction of the variables that exist in our environment, in our bodies, in the foods we eat, and in our levels of activity. Control of my diabetes is omnipresent in almost every waking thought and in so many of the decisions I make each day. Because of my diabetes, I have learned to be less of a perfectionist, to have compassion for myself and others, and to find grace in a world that presents challenges. Type 1 diabetes is not the only invisible difference that creates diversity in our world. Dyslexia, ADHD, Celiac Disease, depression, and anxiety, and so many other challenging differences are invisible. So, when it comes to diversity, to truly be inclusive of difference, we all need to strive to widen our vision.

     Barbie Fink, CCXP, Immediate Past Chair, CXPA Board of Directors and Diversity Advancement Committee Member

Diversity of thought, experience, and background can be a superpower. The coming together of different perspectives can add such richness to our business. If we recruit in our own image, play it safe, and aren't brave when assembling our teams, we miss this. We also miss the chance to build diverse & rich cultures too.

     Alex Russell-Rutherford, CCXP, Diversity Advancement Committee Member
Since I write and speak on DEI quite a bit, I've found that “unconscious bias” continues to be alive and well. Not only what we do/don’t do around diversity, equality and inclusion, which is subjective, but also the fact that many aren’t aware an issue exists because it’s not socialized. The discussion needs to start/continue, which in and of itself, is a great way to be inclusive and most definitely a top way to move the needle on diversity. Like CX, the conversation needs to be top-down and bottom-up, which is how alignment forms.

     Sue Duris, Diversity Advancement Committee Member

While we've come a long way when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we still have many miles to go to truly affect and see change. When we get to a point where everyone understands that diversity is more than race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender (the most commonly used primary characteristics), we can then focus on the change needed to make organizations and societies truly diverse, fully inclusive, and accessible to all. I challenge everyone to stretch their thinking and learn more about secondary and even tertiary characteristics. When we do not encourage and model an inclusive culture, we stay stuck in the past. We miss out or lose customers, members, and job candidates because we are not expanding our definition of diversity past primary characteristics.

     Adrienne Bryant, CAE, CCXP Program Director, Customer Experience Professionals Association and Staff Liaison, Diversity Advancement Committee
What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

Diversity is about intention and inclusion is about impact. Diversity is having people with different identities, experiences, and perspectives. It's making sure there is a wide variety of people invited. Inclusion is making sure everyone feels included and accepted. A way to look at this is through an analogy of a dinner party. Do you have a vegetarian option, or do you expect your vegetarian friends to only be able to eat the salad? Are your chairs narrow with arms, making it uncomfortable for your bigger-bodied friends and do you expect them to deal with the discomfort? Are you wearing a powerful perfume that triggers migraines in Aunt Sally? While these items aren't the hot topics in DE&I they bring a good lens to see how simple changes can add inclusion to your diversity efforts. Companies often focus on their hiring and promotion pipeline to ensure diverse candidates but fail to make the next step which is "Will people of diverse backgrounds feel accepted and respected here?" Diversity is focused on inviting a variety of people to the table, inclusion is about making sure they feel respected and cared for so they can bring their best selves to the table. Diversity alone won't provide the impact you're looking for but combining it with inclusion will.

     Angeleen Rohda, CCXP, 2022 Diversity Advancement Committee Vice-Chair 

Why do you believe diversity measures never gain traction?

The saying “what gets measured gets done” is a poor fit for achieving diversity and inclusion traction. This is because diversity, equity, and inclusion is about listening, respecting and growing new understanding through an authentic process that values and leverages diversity. Creating a culture of respect that considers the perspectives, beliefs, values and circumstances of all requires commitment – which may not be easily reduced to a quantitative measure.

     Greg Melia, CAE, CEO, Customer Experience Professionals Association

There's a multitude of reasons, but one reason I don't feel is talked about enough is what I call the "I'm a good person" aspect, which can also turn into "We're a good organization". I could go on about how being a "good person" is an illusion but that will be for another time. The 'I'm a good person" aspect to me is when we do something or participate in a system that causes harm and challenges our self-view. "But, I'm a good person, I am open to all people" or "Look at all the good things I do." I think it's important for everyone to realize that all people make mistakes, have blind spots, and have unconscious biases. Being aware and taking accountability for them doesn't diminish all the good things you've done. I like to look at those situations the way CX professionals look at customer feedback. It is painful to know you've failed a customer, or a process you set up is causing issues. But ignoring the feedback or focusing only on positive feedback doesn't make it go away. Take an approach of, "how can I learn and grow from this?"; having a compassionate open view of yourself, your organization, and the things you're building is essential in the DE&I space and teaching that same perspective to others can open a lot of doors in making improvements.

     Angeleen Rohda, CCXP, 2022 Diversity Advancement Committee Vice-Chair

This is very similar to the CX maturity conundrum. Asking/answering the question how diversity-mature are you is a great place to start. If it is in the ignore/explore stage or an ad-hoc group is put in place that is not aligned with the entire organization and championed at the top and governance is non-existent, the diversity initiative will not succeed. It is important to use what we’ve learned as CX professionals in how we approach DEI - understand the purpose of DEI, investigate where the gaps are, establish a cross-functional team to help drive DEI across an organization, enable diverse thoughts and opinions, strategize, and operationalize so we can close gaps and improve, etc. These types of actions are what helps move the needle on DEI.

     Sue Duris, Diversity Advancement Committee Member

Why is diversity important?

Diversity, including gender equality, is an important topic, as everyone deserves access to the same resources and opportunities. If two individuals with similar skills & education apply for the same job or promotion, there should be no difference in the evaluation process. Unfortunately, this has not been the case over time.

I personally have experienced a lack of diversity and inclusion in all-male meetings, even when my level or related positions were in the room and topics pertained to my job. While it was not a good employee experience, the good news is that I figured out how to overcome these situations. and be a change agent to help others.

My 3 Actionable Recommendations:
  1. Communicate and articulate the value you bring so others understand your perspective and the benefit of inclusion. While self-advocacy is NOT easy, it is essential and a contributing factor for professional and personal success.
  2. Deal with uncomfortable situations head-on versus an avoidance approach.
  3. Be impeccable with your words. (More about this in “The Four Agreements” book. A must-read.) And choose the right moments to contribute. You have 2 ears and 1 mouth. Use them accordingly.
Remember: there will always be obstacles. People often say “No” without even thinking about situations, but there IS a path to “Yes!” Be creative and speak up. Know what you can control and focus your time and effort on those things.

     Stacy Sherman, Diversity Advancement Committee Member, Founder @

In what way has diversity helped your personal life or in your career?

For me personally, as someone who was born in a different country to the country, I live in, I'm already coming at things with a slightly different perspective, less affected by "the way things have always been done", always having that outside-in mindset, which always has a ripple effect in a positive way with colleagues. When we come together on projects & change, it feels so much richer than if we were doing it alone. I also think this mindset really compliments working in CX. You often must be the embodiment of what you're trying to achieve or be the first person to take those different steps towards customer centricity. So not having that fear of being different, and trying new things, is already being part of my identity and feels natural when it comes to championing, disrupting, and working in CX.

     Alex Russell-Rutherford, CCXP, Diversity Advancement Committee Member

I view DEI not just as giving unrepresented and under-represented groups (whether based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) a voice, but also allowing for fair treatment of differences in thought and opinion where we all can come together and evolve the world and make it a better place.

In my career, there were times when I didn’t receive as equitable a wage, or my opinions were discounted. Now that my opinion has been asked for more, I have been included in conversations, and I have been able to make more valuable contributions, I view this as a positive development of DEI principles in our society. While we’ve made progress, there is so much more to do. Our best DEI days are still ahead.

Understanding what diversity is has helped me to be more aware. I take the approach to imagine what diversity looks like and work backwards to make that image real. Self-awareness is a critical emotional intelligence skill that we have to develop and exercise on a regular basis. Being aware that a diversity gap exists and where I can help close the gap and improve diversity (doesn’t just impact unrepresented or underrepresented groups, but helps improve CX and drive organizational growth, too!) has enabled me to be more inclusive and do things like checking my unconscious bias and knowing how to improve it. There’s a nifty unconscious bias test here ( that anyone can take!

     Sue Duris, Diversity Advancement Committee Member

We invite you to share your thoughts and perspectives on these same questions. Creating a safe space for healthy dialogue is an important part of creating a culture of inclusion where everyone knows they belong and are accepted. 


Views expressed are solely those of the respondent and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

1 comment



10-24-2022 01:44 AM

Thanks Adrienne for sharing this! I loved it!