Deondra Wardelle Opening Remarks on Why She Started Speaking Out — #RootCauseRacism Panel

This is part of the recent webinar panel discussion titled “Sharing Our Visions and Voices to #RootCauseRacism”.

Deondra speaks on why she took the risk to post about issues regarding race and the murder of George Floyd on LinkedIn… and how this project came to be.

“Deondra Wardelle: Thank you, Mark. Thank you to those fabulous panelists for being here today. Thank you to those who are online participating, watching, and interacting with us on this webinar. Just to give a high-level overview, this project came about, started out from a pain point.

Much like what we deal within the space of continuous improvement, when there is a pain point, we want to find a solution. We want to find a way to alleviate that pain. My pain points stemmed from what I was seeing going on in our world as it relates to race relations, specifically after George Floyd’s murder.

With that, I kept thinking with what we do in continuous improvement, especially with what we do in the Kata, where we have these big-huge challenges. We still find a way to come up with a solution. Why can we not apply that to what’s going on in our world? The other thing is I wanted to make my voice heard about my concerns as a Black woman and what I was experiencing.

I’ve always been a talker. My form of protest, I decided was going to be the virtual streets of LinkedIn.

Typically, I only talk about just basic safe things on LinkedIn. I took a risk and decided to post about be gentle with your black colleagues returning to work the Monday after George Floyd’s murder because there’s no telling how they may feel.

I was nervous about posting that. I didn’t know what different events I was scheduled to keynote at and different projects I was scheduled to lead. Was there an opportunity? I would lose those? What I decided, at the end of the day, I’m a black woman before I’m anything else and those risks would be worthwhile.

With my hands literally shaking over my keyboard as I typed the post, I just did it scared. What happened was I did receive some feedback that was a little unkind. From that pain point, it helped me to further think about what could be done to raise the voices and bring Lean more to the forefront to use the tool to address what we’re experiencing.

That, along with just the support from Women in Lean and my friends across the world, and different sororities, especially Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and the way the Women in Lean and all these women rallied around and provided support, it gave me the strength to keep posting.

I did another post about microaggressions, because I’ve dealt with those in the past. I’m dealing with those now. I was nervous about that post, but I had a little more courage because I had an army of all these women behind me.

From that, that again received some more unkind posts that they were noise like we see in our process. Sometimes things are noise and they just need to be ignored, but it caught Mark Graban’s attention, the Mark Graban.

He messaged me and we just had very open, honest…It was a really healing dialogue. He extended to me the offer to write a blog. I don’t believe there is a “I” in team. I never do anything alone. I always say if I ever get a seat at the table, I’m bringing all my friends with me.

When he extended that offer, I said, “You know what? It’s odd that you should mention that because I’ve been wanting to write a blog. “Let me check with my friends, specifically the Women in Lean, and I’ll get back with you.” The rest is history, and here we are today.”

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