November 18th, 2016 By Alyssa Stern
Jack Morton Boston’s diversity and inclusion committee is dedicated to creating a sense of community and acceptance within the office. Whether through events or regular communications, we work to create a space to celebrate all the many ways our community represents a variety of perspectives, experiences, relationships and identities.
This November, Jack Morton Boston held its very first diversity and inclusion book club. The hope was to use the book club as a forum to spark conversations on a variety of topics, and to allow for an honest dialogue amongst Jack employees. The stories act as facilitators for conversation, but conversation is encouraged above and beyond what is literally within the pages of the chosen book. It is about the sharing of different perspectives and experiences.
[important]The stories act as facilitators for conversation, but conversation is encouraged above and beyond what is literally within the pages of the chosen book.[/important]
We chose Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York for the November book club meeting. It features portraits and interviews collected from a diverse collection of people in New York City. Filled with thousands of stories, the book shows the tremendous amount of diversity and perspectives that can live within one city. The visually driven book was also easily accessible to all.
Those who participated were tasked with choosing a few stories that stood out to them and explaining why those stories resonated with them. Stories were chosen for a variety of reasons. Some liked the accompanying photos, some empathized with the particular story, and some found they learned something new just from reading the short quote that went with the photo. It was truly moving to see the diverse reactions to each story. Some caused a whirlwind of laughter, some warmed hearts, and some brought tears to people’s eyes.
I remember one participant who read a story from Humans of New York’s inmate series. He shared anecdotes about family members who have had related experiences. The story was about a man who saw a quick week in jail as time off, as a break from the responsibilities of the real world. There was a mixture of laughter, sadness and mutual understanding around the room–even though no one else in the room had a particular or personal connection with the story. We learned something new about our friend and welcomed his openness, and were able to apply that perspective to our own lives. I think the most critical takeaway that came out of the meeting was our acknowledgement of how interconnected everyone’s stories really are. No matter how unrelated a story might have seemed at first, everyone still found a way to participate and find a connection to some part of their own lives. We had the opportunity to see and understand each other outside of our typical work relationships. The diversity and inclusion committee is excited to implement this book club as a regular event and is thankful to be surrounded by co-workers and friends excited to participate.