Law Practice Management, 1121 COBJ, Vol. 50, No. 10 Pg. 12

PositionVol. 50, 10 [Page 12]

50 Colo.Law. 12

Promoting an Inclusive Workplace by Holding Space

Vol. 50, No. 10 [Page 12]

Colorado Lawyer

November, 2021



Law firms, companies, universities, and governmental entities are making strides in developing and modifying their diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, and most of these changes are considerable advancements over the previous policies. For those of us who have been laboring toward inclusion for decades, this is a welcome course of action. While there is still a long way to go, someone finally heard our shouts sounding over the rooftops of our workplaces.

On the other hand, policies are just a starting point. When not backed up by actual leadership practices, they are just meaningless words and sounding gongs. And herein lies a problem. "There are many different types of workplaces, with many different types of employees having many different working styles."1 Good leadership practices must promote these new policies, not by eliminating these differences but by recognizing their value and giving them a voice. We can do this by turning to the one thing that permeates all workplaces—employee relationships. Leaders must learn how to manage these relationships to increase inclusiveness and give voice to the differences brought by diverse employees. This article promotes anew theory of leadership practice designed to do just that. By holding space for each employee, leaders will allow employees from all walks of life to thrive, grow, and become participating members of any team.

A Thought Experiment

Think back to your high school physics class. Before Einstein, classical mechanics ruled the day. Space was thought of in Euclidean terms as having three dimensions, and time was considered to be separate and distinct from space. Time flowed at a constant rate, it was thought, regardless of an observer's viewpoint. Then a young patent clerk got involved in the physics game. Einstein revolutionized our understanding of space and time by combining the two into a single four-dimensional model, now known as space time. The consequences of his discovery—which we all know as the theory of relativity—were paradigm shifting. Most relevant to our purposes, Einstein introduced the idea that time is relative to the position of an observer. In other words, there is no absolute frame of reference.

To visualize this concept, picture an astronaut taking a flash photo while standing exactly at the midpoint of a Falcon Heavy spaceship traveling to Mars. To the astronaut, the light from the flash will appear to proceed to the front and back of the spacecraft at the exact same speed, striking their respective points at the exact same time. Now picture a hypothetical observer standing on a stationary ship that happened to be alongside the Falcon Heavy at the exact moment the astronaut took the flash photo. To the observer standing still, the light will appear to travel toward the rear of the spacecraft more quickly than toward the front of the craft. This is because the rear of the Falcon Heavy is moving toward the point where the photo was taken, while the front of the craft is moving away from that point. Because the light traveling to the back of the ship has a shorter distance to travel than the light traveling to the front, the ship's motion causes the flash of light to strike the ends of the ship at different times.

In other words, time and...

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