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Racial and Social Justice: Next Steps with Lutze Segu

“Strategic planning can no longer just be about dollars and cents. If you’re not thinking about how antiracism is part of your strategic planning, if you’re not thinking about how psychological safety can also be part of your strategic planning, you’re just not going to be the right fit for this world.”

Lutze Segu, Social Justice Doula

In this episode

This special episode of the SheEO.World podcast was recorded live at the SheEO Summit 2021 with Lutze Segu, Social Justice Doula. Lutze talks about her role as a Social Justice Doula and how it has allowed her to listen and understand the conditions, questions, and conversations that need to happen to make way for change and transformation.

She also touches on:

  • Being present and actively doing work to combat racism
  • Psychological safety and creating the conditions needed to allow for creativity and innovation
  • How to allow for safe spaces within organizations
  • Learning the role of conflict in interpersonal relationships
  • Adjusting expectations and setting personal boundaries at our workplaces

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Podcast Transcript:

The podcast is being transcribed by Otter.ai. (there may be errors, run-on sentences and misspellings).

Lutze Segu 0:00
Strategic planning can no longer just be about dollars and cents, “We’re gonna do this, what’s our marketing brand, what’s our strategy?” If you’re not thinking about how antiracism is part of your strategic planning, if you’re not thinking about how psychological safety can also be part of your strategic planning, you’re just not going to be the right fit for this world that we’re in that’s moving rapidly, where consciousness is being shaped and elevated at rapid speeds.

Hannah Cree 0:28
This talk was recorded at the SheEO Summit March 2021, titled, Racial and Social Justice: Next Steps with Lutze Segu, Social Justice Doula. Learn more about her work at lutzesegu.com

Vicki Saunders 0:42
Hi, Lutze. So good to have you here.

Lutze Segu 0:45
Hello, Vicki. I’m so happy to be with you.

Vicki Saunders 0:48
Tell us who you are and what you do.

Lutze Segu 0:51
Oh, I am Lutze Segu. I’m currently situated in Miami, in the United States, which is the ancestral traditional lands of the Miccosukee Seminole Tequesta First Nations. I’m a PhD candidate at the UBC, at UBC University of British Columbia in Vancouver. I am a social worker, I am a black feminist thinker. And just someone who’s just really curious about the world, and who believes people can change and can be transformed and believes that anti racism is the only way we as a species are going to survive on this planet. So that’s me.

Vicki Saunders 1:31
Awesome. Thank you so much. You call yourself a social justice doula. Or Last time we talked you did? I know language is changing fast. I don’t know if you’ve changed that. Tell us about that.

Lutze Segu 1:44
Yeah, so um, I—no, the language has not changed. And I really feel as if how I’m working with people individually, as well as organizations, I feel like I’m doula-ing people. So I’m holding people through their process of being with themselves and undoing their socialization and learning. And so I just I accompany people in organizations on that, on their journey. And if you know anything about the birth world, you know that the doula just tends to the energy, and just finds out well, what are the conditions that are needed? So things can happen. And so that’s what I do. I kind of like, like, listen and sit with people like, what are the conditions? What are the questions? What are the, what are the conversations that need to happen, so that change can happen and people can be transformed. And so it’s, I feel like it’s a natural progression going from social worker, and to thinking about doing social work on a different level. And so this is me doula-ing people, it sounds hippie dippie. It’s rooted in a lot of theory and a lot of magic at the same time. And so I’m really proud of what I’m able to do. And for the most part, people who understand the birth world, understand immediately what I mean when I say social justice doula. So it’s very interesting. What signals it puts out and how it gestures to people differently.

Vicki Saunders 3:12
It’s interesting, because I have not had children. But I have birthed so many ideas, so many initiatives, so many projects. So I completely resonate. So could you talk a bit about your process, where you start, we have an audience full of people from all different walks of life, all ages and stages. And a lot of them are very entrepreneurial, and very keen on transforming themselves and systems. So can you give us a bit of a pathway into your work?

Lutze Segu 3:38
Yeah. So thank you, I love how you’re reframing. Because again, it—I too, do not have children and it just really, thinking about like, but we’re as women who are doing innovative things, we are giving birth all the time, and you just want to think about a capacious understanding of birth, and what that means. So I really appreciate you centering that. And so where I start is that, I get, I try to get organizations and people thinking that anti racism is not an identity, it is a practice, what are you practicing? And so if you want the kind of organization where people feel psychologically safe, to come to be creative, and to be innovative, then you have to really ask yourself, then what are you practicing? Are you incentivizing a work culture that allows for that? Or are you incentivizing a culture that reproduces the worst parts of business culture that is very much rooted in domination and exploitation? So that’s where I start. I just I literally asked people, what do you want to practice? Do you want to be racist? Or do you want to be anti racist? And it’s not enough to be against racism. Now, it’s just like, what do I want to practice because we know that if we want something to happen, we have to organize our behavior to achieve that goal. So If the goal of this organization is to be anti racist, then we have questions to ask ourselves about what are we practicing? What do we value? What languages needs to change what perceptions needs to change all of those kinds of things. And so I start with the self, because I’m a firm believer until it’s real, and you’re practicing, it is not going to be real within your management and within your executive leadership, and all of those kinds of things. So um, so that is why I started start with a self and let’s work out on the outer circles.

Vicki Saunders 5:34
I love it. I wonder a little bit about your process as you’re working with organizations. And I, I wonder if you’re bringing communities of people along in on the social justice pathway, and the racial justice pathway, how much articulation of what’s actually happening, while it’s happening is important. When you’re doing this, this transformation work?

Lutze Segu 5:59
Yes. So as any, how can I say anyone at any high achieving high functioning person knows that it’s really hard to let people in on everything that’s going on in your brain and everything, that’s all the tools that you’re pulling from, because you’ll lose people? And so there’s a lot of this stuff in a way that I’m holding, but there are things that I’m making really transparent. Because it’s weird, because some people aren’t when we’re thinking about doing antiracism work, there are people who are firmly in the camp of, we’re gonna feel our way out of this. And then there are other people who are firmly in like, no, no, no, we’re gonna read all the books, and we’re gonna read our way out of it. And my job is to be like, actually, no, we’re going to whole-person our way out of this. We’re going to be holistic, and so which means I have to bring, I have to bring the intellect and I have to bring my body and I have to bring think about how are people thinking how people feeling, so I have to bring the soft, gushy stuff because I have to talk to those people. And I have to think about the pragmatic dollars and cents, people who are not bringing that kind of stuff. So in that regard, it’s like, I it’s really hard to let people know that actually, I’m doing a lot I’m holding a lot of, I’m throwing black feminism magic. I’m throwing native feminisms at you. I’m throwing women of color feminism at you, and I’m just doing my you know, I’m deeply rooted in my own spirituality, my own embodiment. And I’m, I’m bringing that into it. And so it’s, it’s hard, especially for people who don’t have a practice of thinking about themselves in that very specific way. It’s, it could be overwhelming. So I try not to overwhelm because already the subject matter, and the work I’m leading them through, feels scary, is scary and is already overwhelming. And so this is where I’m the beauty of I’m the facilitator, I’m the one holding it. You don’t need to be bogged down with all that extra stuff. Let me doula you, because the doula is really the only person that needs to know all the things that need to happen when they need to happen. You just need to be in as present as possible to do the work that you need to do within yourself.

Vicki Saunders 8:05
I wonder about psychological safety and creating the conditions for that. And if you have a if you have some learning that you can share around this.

Lutze Segu 8:16
So we have to ask ourselves when it comes to psychological safety—do you want to be innovative? Do you want to be creative? Because the only way to get the most creative answers, and the most innovative answers is to create psychological safety. And when I say psychological safety, like I literally mean that. There are organizations where people no longer feel as if they can bring good ideas, they can bring themselves into a room. Because if the idea does not—if it’s too bold, if it’s too whatever, there’s this intention, there’s this thinking like, I’m too woowoo, or, here I am being too feminine in my thinking, this that and a third, like there’s so many gender-based, race-based kinds of things that go on into the, in the room. So when I think about psychological safety, literally, is this like, “Can this room be with difference? Can this room be with creativity? And can this room handle creativity from bodies that it’s not accustomed to listening to and being led by?” And that is a very hard question to ask people. Because then you’re getting into that murkiness of like, then now people have to be honest about, well what do I think about certain bodies? And do I think certain bodies have good ideas? And do I think I should be led by those bodies and those ideas. And so this is where the psychological safety comes in. Because—and psychological safety is kind of a thing. It sounds like really weird and abstract. But you know, when you’re in a room, where we want to innovate and you know, when we’re in a room where status, we’re going to do the status quo thing, even if it bankrupts us. You know when you’re in that space. And so my job is like, and literally in what I’m what my learnings have shown me, it’s like, a place that is rigid around gender, around sex around the roles in whatever is also a place that is rigid around creativity. So literally, like, an organization that is operating in sexism and homophobia, and racism is literally an organization that’s experiencing atrophy. And so anti racism is not just some like, oh, let’s make sure there are enough black people, Indigenous people, this that and a third. Yeah, it has that by that it has that effect as well. But a major byproduct that people never think about is psychological safety. If I feel I can bring my entire black self, within this professional room, as I deem safe and okay for me, I also get to bring all of these ideas, and what does it look like when you start to get ideas from people who did not go to the same schools as you do, who didn’t vacation where you vacation, you bring this richness, and again, you know, I hate to be all dollars and cents about it. But studies literally show companies that have diverse boards and diverse leaders, the bottom line is better, they they are more profitable. Why? Because they’re innovative. And if you’re innovative in one area, you’re going to be innovative in other areas in the organization. And I just can’t, this is a really big thing for me, like psychological safety is going to be the thing that’s going to undo a lot of organizations within this decade, if they don’t get with it. Because strategic planning can no longer just be about dollars and cents, “We’re gonna do this, what’s our marketing brand, what’s our strategy?” If you’re not thinking about how antiracism is part of your strategic planning, if you’re not thinking about how psychological safety can also be part of your strategic planning, you’re just not going to be the right fit for this world that we’re in that’s moving rapidly, where consciousness is being shaped and elevated at rapid speeds. So as you can see, I’m really passionate about this.

Vicki Saunders 12:09
I love it. I completely love it. I wonder if you are sort of looking at organizations today— Are there practices that you’re noticing across the different clients and groups that you’re working with? Is everything completely different is impossible to boil the ocean on this? Are there some things that you just think organizations that do this well, that are going to survive in the future? Do these three things? Or these four things?

Lutze Segu 12:36
Yes, conflict. Conflict. So if if the majority of the people at an organization are people who are culturally conflict averse? Like, I’m so sorry, but like, while you’re in so much trouble, it’s not even funny. It’s not even funny. Because, um, because when because wherever there are people there are, there’s conflict. So whenever people meet, there is a very, very high likelihood, conflict will rear its head. However, those of us who have learned or unlearned, rather that if you’ve done the hard work of learning, like actually, conflict can be generative. What does that look like when you come, when you come together with other people? Because here’s the thing. It’s great to have different people differences. However, if you are not accustomed to playing well in the in the sandbox with different kinds of people, then that conflict, conflict gets even more exacerbated. So this is where I have to, I ask people all the time, I need you to be clear and check yourself personally. Because here’s the thing, if you if you are conflict averse in your personal life, you are conflict averse at work. Like super woman is not going to come out at work if you if you are passive aggressive and constantly avoiding, avoiding whatever you’re doing with your kids with your partner, or whomever. So that’s number one. Another thing I’m, I am noticing, especially among organizations that have a large swath of millennials. Millennials have a different expectation of work. What does that mean? They want more out of work. And so what happens is, if you find yourself, you’re a boss, you’re an executive director who is Gen X or a boomer, you you get bristled a lot by millennials, because millennials have super high expectations of work, expectations that I think are not fair. So just being clear about that, because now millennials have lived with with now two recessions, we’ve seen so many things in a short period of time, and the majority of us are not even 40. So with that, there’s a lot of like, this job has to be my everything, right? Because I’ve already—I have six figures worth of student loan debt. So this career has got to, it’s got to be it. And so that’s a lot of pressure to put on an organization. So what I see too is this like, I’m asking more and more millennial teams to think about—is your expectation for work realistic. So this is where people should be encouraging their workers to, to have work life balance, and to have another place outside of work, where they funnel their liberatory, creative big dreams, that cannot, for obvious reason, live at work. Now, that becomes very hard when all we do is work. And so when all you do is work, and you don’t have good boundaries, and you’re not feeding other parts of yourself, work now becomes everything, and then you’re easily disappointed by work. And that’s, and that causes a lot of social dynamic problems at work, because everyone’s burnt out, no one has another alternative. So we’re all mad, and we’re all mad at the wrong things, but projecting it at distinct since we’re all here. That’s number two. And another thing. Yeah, we live in an age where people expect to bring more feelings into the workplace. And for a lot of people culturally, that’s hard. That is hard. And so how do we become the kind of people especially here we are a year into a global pandemic, your worker who you’re mentoring, who you’re providing all of those things? We’re all not experiencing this global pandemic in the same way. And what does it look like for organizations and for leaders, when we’re thinking about anti racist feminist leaders to make space for their workers, to bring their full self to work and knowing that, here’s this person having to probably care for an aging parent or dog, a child, and they still have to work? And when it’s time for the staff meeting, and it’s time to check in, are they allowed to say, you know what, today’s a really hard day, I don’t need anyone at work, per se to fix it. I just need a place to say that. I’m not operating at 10, my kid’s computer keeps crashing at school. Um, I have a sick parent, you know, things are not going so well. I’m frazzled. Am I able to say that in my check in and then we can move on? And so that there’s a—my humanity has seen because I’m stuck in a house all day with these kids. And I need to speak to adults. But I feel like it’s not appropriate for me to say that, hey, I’m feeling some things. And so like, yeah, so that is those are one of the top three things right now. I’m asking people like, are you really checking in on your people? Really checking in on them? And I’m just letting people know that it’s not lip service, because we all survived 2020. We also we saw the racial reckoning this that and a third. We’re still living through a global pandemic here in the United States. We just crossed 500,000 people dead. That’s a lot of grief that’s in the air. Let us not ignore that there is grief in the air.

Vicki Saunders 18:18
Thank you. Conflict, bringing it all to work. And this deeper empathy. I mean, this is what we continue to see over and over this need for leaders and teams to really take care of one another. Thank you so much for all that you do. How can we find you, because we want to send lots of people your way for the amazing work that you’re doing?

Lutze Segu 18:37
Yes, lutzesegu.com. That is my website, I have a newsletter that I put out every month, lots of resources. You get to—I draw back the curtains on how I’m thinking about the world. You can find me on Instagram, @socialjusticedoula, Facebook offers in a way to follow people without being their friends on Facebook. You can follow me on Facebook Lutze Segu or you can find me on Twitter on @feministgriote. So I’m on all the things—I don’t know why, but I’m very accessible. You can find me.

Vicki Saunders 19:09
Awesome. Thank you so much Lutze, love having talks with you. See you again soon.

Hannah Cree 19:18
This talk was recorded at the SheEO Summit March 2021, titled, Racial and Social Justice: Next Steps with Lutze Segu, Social Justice Doula. Learn more about her work at lutzesegu.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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