Inclusion Provocateur: Bridging the Human Divides

The Northwest Diversity Learning Series is an annual educational resource for employers in the Puget Sound Region. Comprised of six half-day morning workshops (8:30 am to 12:00 pm), employees and managers come together to learn about emerging D&I issues and best practices for a team and organizational work environment. Each annual series focuses on a theme and each workshop focuses on a particular dimension of that theme. The Series, beginning its 20th year in 2018, in the Puget Sound Region, is supported by an active D&I and HR Leaders Group with its own series of planning and professional development sessions. 




Twenty years into the NW Diversity Learning Series, we face a challenging question:  How do those of us who promote diversity and inclusion respond to those who hold polar opposite views, who do not value what we have been advocating?


One definition of Inclusion says, “An inclusive environment enables individuals and groups to feel safe, respected, engaged, motivated and valued for who they are and for their contributions toward organizational and societal goals” [GDIB, 2016].  If we value “who people are,” we also value those with a variety of perspectives. At the same time, inclusion does not mean supporting hate, bigotry or violence, or violating ethical business conduct. If organizations are truly committed to inclusion, it may require changing some long-held institutional practices.


We believe leaders and practitioners have not fully grappled with the tensions inherent in diversity work, nor with the dilemmas and paradoxes of inclusion. We believe the time has come that we must develop approaches and strategies that take conflicts associated with diversity and inclusion into account, as we believe this step is necessary for D&I practices to be viewed as legitimate and inclusive of all. 


Purpose of the 2018 Series:


The purpose of the 2018 Series is to build greater capacity for our attendees to address controversies associated with diversity and inclusion, so that they become better at:

  • Initiating dialogue about inclusion as a way to bridge disparate views about diversity;

  • Engaging those with different perspectives about creating inclusive organizational cultures, and,

  • Working with those who are uncomfortable with demographic and cultural change.  

Approach to the 2018 Series Topics:


Each topic (or session) for the 2018 Series will focus on a particular Human Divide, and will emphasize the following Bridging techniques:


  • Practice mapping Polarities: analysis of the “up side” and the “down side” of opposing views to better understand one’s own and others’ perspectives  (“When you work toward the upsides of both values in a polarity, you create a virtuous cycle leading to a higher purpose.”)

  • Increasing trust and confidence building in seeking out those with differing perspectives than one’s own—in ideas, worldviews, ideologies, backgrounds, ways of thinking, experience, beliefs and values

  • Learning to engage others authentically with empathy, curiosity, and openness—seeking understanding and mutually beneficial outcomes

  • Developing strategic approaches with sustainable tactics for building inclusive cultures, such as aligning D&I with corporate or organizational codes of conduct and values



2018 Theme (20th Anniversary Year)

Inclusion Provocateur:  Bridging the Human Divides


What is an Inclusion Provocateur? An Inclusion Provocateur is a catalyst for initiating courageous dialogue, discussions, conversations, relationships, and curiosity.


What is Bridging? Bridging is a process for seeking the greater good among individuals and groups that may have different ideologies and beliefs. It involves reaching out to others in an intentional way to create understanding and to forge mutually beneficial outcomes.


What are the Human Divides? The Human Divides are the D&I issues that we will explore in 2018. These issues have been identified by the Series Sponsors and Subscribers as the most prominent and most urgent of topics requiring our attention and our learning. 


2018 Six Bi-monthly Sessions

Dates and Topics:


  • Session 1:  Tuesday, January 23 - Polarities and Resistance: Creating an Inclusive and Sustainable Approach to Change 


  • Session 2: Wednesday, March 14 - Religious Dominance - Religious Pluralism: Understanding Un-Discussed Polarity


  • Session 3: Wednesday, May 9 - Power and Privilege: Addressing Loss, Striving for Equity


  • Session 4: Tuesday,  June 19 - Free Speech, Hate Speech, Political Correctness: Striving for Civility & Respect


  • Session 5: Wednesday, September 26 Us and Them: Navigating the Multicultural Divides


  • Session 6: Wednesday, November 14 Native Americans: Undoing the Last Acceptable Racism


Contact us for more information about sponsorships, subscriptions and our services:


As we identify and select presenters for each session, the exact order of each topic may change based on availability of a specific presenter.  Stay tuned! We will update and communicate presenters and other changes as soon as possible! On-line registration for the 2018 Series is now available!