The Bold Faced Blog™

January 31, 2017

Sobre Mesa, A Deep and Honest Conversation About Diversity & Inclusion

Posted 2 years 18 days ago by Mercedes Martin

November 2016 will go down in my memory as the Fall Uprising: politics, identity and the uncommon pursuit of justice in the United States. An uprising that shattered unwritten rules on what gets talked about in the workplace: politics, religion and race were being openly discussed and even asked about—outside a diversity training workshop.

For the first time since arriving in the United States of America, I heard the conversations my parents facilitate during the sobre mesa at our Cuban-American home—only this time the conversations were in the workplace. Sobre mesa is an experience that happens right after dinner when everyone is content, feeling grateful and vulnerable … and prime for one of those deep, real, honest conversations that comes to light after a slow-cooked home meal, and over the last cafesito of the day. These are the conversations that get heated, where gestures get bigger and wider, and dinner guests swivel to get up from the table and remove a plate. Their attempts to diffuse the intensity do not go un-noticed. Everyone knows there is no beginning or end to these conversations held together by a couple of “understood group rules”: don’t make it personal, and we may disagree on the topic yet agree we are family. Courageous conversations do not fully capture the essence of sobre mesa, but I might be culturally biased here.

After an unprecedented presidential campaign, the sobre mesa became a nightly routine, not because we were finally sitting down and talking to each other after sharing a meal– instead because we were separating from each other. We retreated to our personal echo chambers—our self-curated Facebook and Twitter social media pages that let us know what the rest of the world was thinking about our thinking. I made the commitment to reconstruct my chamber in a way that allowed me to hear and understand different perspectives and also purposely create spaces where the most different perspectives are equally heard.

I had the opportunity to facilitate a couple of sobre mesa conversations during The Conference Board Conference on Diversity & Inclusion on December 2-3 in San Francisco. Created and led by Rebekah Steele, Diversity Breakthroughs, this event offered the space and opportunity to highlight design thinking concepts that will prepare teams and organizations for their sobre mesa conversations and the transformative D&I approaches they can inspire. We used storytelling and authentic dialogue as a way to bring attendees together.  As one participant stated, “We need to bring the outside in and the inside out.”

If you are interested in hearing more about our next “sobre mesa” please contact Sheila Lewis

Tags: diversity election inclusion Mercedes Martin

Categories: categoryDiversity & Inclusion

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