023 - Giving life to DEI & workplace wellbeing with Vivian Acquah
How her own pregnancy and postpartum depression sounded the alarm for Vivian Acquah about workplace discrimination and the need for deep listening in inclusion efforts
Vivian Acquah was a successful professional working in finance and technology. But when she got pregnant, she started to sense something off about the reactions she was getting. Prior to her pregnancy, she was one of the top employees at her company and afterwards, she felt devalued, experiencing a heightened level of comments and jokes insinuating things about her identity as a mother and a black woman.
When she tried to speak up and share her sadness, frustration and embarrassment at these experiences, her intelligent senses were belittled, being told that what she was upset about was simply a joke, or was not meant to be negative. She learned quickly to bottle her feelings inside.
So when she experienced post-partum depression after giving birth, she could no longer ignore the signs: she had to move on from a discriminatory, unsupportive work environment. And when she did, she dedicated herself to humanizing the workplace so that her son and the next generation could enter the workforce feeling safe, supported and included.
In this interview we discuss the many complex factors that can lead to experiencing prolonged distress, how the buildup of continuous smaller disruptive events can be just as painful (and sometimes more) than one big tragedy, and the importance of explicitly creating safe spaces that encourage people to share their distress with each other and with the organization so that it can learn and evolve from the wisdom within these experiences.
"Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community." - Bell Hooks
You can find out more about and connect with Vivian here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vivianacquah/ and more about her business, here: https://vivalavive.com/.
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