In this episode of Everyday Conversations on Race, I interview Rosalyn Taylor O’Neill, a highly regarded diversity and inclusion thought leader. Rosalyn shares her experiences as the former Chief Diversity Officer at Campbell’s Soup Company and Executive VP of Diversity Initiatives for MTV Network. She has received numerous accolades and awards for her work, including being named one of the top 100 most influential Blacks in corporate America and one of the top executives in diversity, and one of most influential LGBTQ people that year. With 47 years of experience, and never backing down, no matter who challenged her, Rosalyn has a lot to say and share. You want to hear this conversation on race.
In this episode of Everyday Conversations on Race, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion pioneer Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale emphasizes the importance of learning how to discuss race and navigate through discomfort in order to address racial disparities in every area.
Rosalyn acknowledges that talking about race can be uncomfortable and may cause anxiety, as people may fear making mistakes or offending others, but they are necessary in order to learn and grow.
One example is the significance of discussing race with healthcare professionals. Rosalyn explains that if a doctor is not comfortable talking about race, it can create issues for patients, particularly those from racial minority groups. She mentions that rashes may appear differently on the skin of different races. Therefore, it is crucial for doctors to be aware of these differences and for patients to be able to communicate their specific needs and concerns related to race.
Rosalyn highlights the importance of discussing race in society as a whole if we want to survive. She says that in her town, seeing a Black person is still a rarity, indicating the lack of racial diversity. This lack of exposure and understanding can perpetuate stereotypes and biases. By engaging in conversations about race, individuals can challenge these stereotypes and learn from one another’s experiences.
She emphasizes that it is not enough to simply listen and sympathize with someone’s experiences. You must take action and support them in practical ways if you are anti-racist. Merely expressing sympathy or feeling bad for someone does not bring about any real change or alleviate their situation.
Rosalyn shares personal examples. She often felt left out in her mostly all white school, and when she was having a hard time solving a problem, no one would offer to help. However, they always helped each other and acted like they didn’t see her.
If you want to be an ally in action and not just words, then ask someone directly what they need and take steps to fulfill those needs.
Simma, mentioned a friend who noticed an older Asian woman in their building who rarely went out due to fear of attacks during the pandemic. Instead of just expressing concern, the friend offered to accompany her to the grocery store, providing practical support and reassurance.
There is power in collective action. Walking together with someone can make them feel safer and more empowered. By offering to accompany someone who feels unsafe, we can show solidarity and create a stronger sense of support. It is not enough to simply acknowledge someone’s experiences; we must actively work to mitigate the situation and make them feel supported.
[00:02:41] Fearlessness and Belonging.
[00:04:25] Diversity in organizations.
[00:10:52] Learning about different cultures.
[00:15:08] Learning through discomfort.
[00:16:31] Loudness and race awareness.
[00:22:18] Overcoming stereotypes and assumptions.
[00:25:06] Being black in America.
[00:29:58] Asian hate and race discussion.
[00:34:07] Blacks and Jews misunderstanding.
[00:37:32] Asking questions and seeking understanding.
[00:41:25] Slavery and acquired skills.
[00:46:23] Living in a diverse world.
[00:49:08] Empathy and creating understanding.
[00:54:46] Empathy and taking action.
[00:57:55] What are you listening to these days?
[01:02:22] TV shows and cultural diversity.
[01:04:36] Ways to relax and distress.
Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale is a highly regarded diversity and inclusion thought leader, celebrated for her transformative impact on organizations worldwide. With extensive experience, including her roles as Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Campbell Soup Company, and Executive Vice President of Diversity Initiatives for MTV Network, Rosalyn has facilitated courageous conversations on biases, race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, privilege, and gender identity. Her work has earned her numerous accolades, such as being named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America, Top Executives in Diversity, 100 Top Executives in America, and 100 Most Influential LGBT People of the Year.
Simma Lieberman, The Inclusionist helps leaders create inclusive cultures. She is a consultant, speaker and facilitator and the host of the podcast, “Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People.”
Go to www.simmalieberman.com and www.raceconvo.com for more information
Simma is a member of and inspired by the global organization IAC (Inclusion Allies Coalition)
Connect with me:
Loved this episode? Leave us a review and rating