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An Impromptu Wake Up Call: AFP's Position on DEI

An Impromptu Wake Up Call: AFP's Position on DEI

Montreal, Canada - July 13, 2016: On the hottest day of the summer (37 C), hundreds of protesters gathered at Nelson Mandela Park for a Black Lives Matter rally, in solidarity to similar protests in the United States, and to condemn the racial profiling and police brutality in Montreal. After the rally, the protesters took the streets and marched down for three hours and about 10 km. The march finished around 10pm without incident. Photo by Credit:Josie Desmarais on iStockphoto.

As Agile Coaches and consultants, we are all familiar with that moment when we notice the need to name the “elephant in the room.” The “elephant” is the topic that many of us are aware of, but few of us are willing to bring up and examine. I found myself in that position on June 2, 2020. As an Agile Fluency Project co-founder, I was scheduled to give a talk “How Limits Empower Your Agility” at the Agile Virtual Summit conference. That talk featured information about the Agile Fluency Model, a message we want and need to promote for the health of our business.

After a weekend of protests against police brutality, media mobilization, and the agony of witnessing public and private grief and anger, the talk the organizers and I had planned was no longer relevant. In the USA today, our elephant is the terrible impact of racism. Not talking about it has led to unconscionable individual and systemic behavior that harms neighbors, colleagues, families, and friends. It was time to name the grief and anger, to come to grips with history and our changing times, and to make space for a call to action for agilists.

The day before Richard Kasperowski introduced the “Checkin Protocol” in his presentation. Building on his content, my new talk began,

“As my checkin today:

I am afraid for the lives of my neighbors and the future of my country.

I am so mad about how people are treated as “others” instead of valued colleagues and friends.

I am incredibly sad. Grieving for the parents who can’t know whether their children will come home safely; for the colleagues who show up in the face of discounting and disrespect, and keep showing up.

And I’m in…

Today, I want to create a space for us to discuss the state of things - a little bit on COVID-19, pandemics, Black-Lives-Matter, public dissatisfaction, and that we, as agile practitioners, have skills that are so needed in the world today.”

The next day the conference featured an inspiring session by Michelle Casandra Johnson and Amy Burtaine, “Why DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Matters.” The Agile Virtual Summit organizers have made both talks publicly available. View and listen to their talk and mine, along with the Q&A for both, and the discussion in its entirety.

Here at Agile Fluency Project, we encourage you to look around and notice that in the current climate of Black-Lives-Matter protests, we need more than minds and hearts to engage. We need behavior change. We need action. We need anti-racism. We believe agile coaches and practitioners have skills that our workplaces and communities need, in accordance with our privilege and taking the opportunity to learn from our BIPOC colleagues.