Reflection Point partnered with two large teams from a well-known global technology company (eight concurrent breakout groups) to discuss a story chosen to explore the roles we play in ensuring a just and equitable society. The session was not designed to be a historical exploration of Juneteenth, but rather open conversations about the promise of freedom represented by the holiday, and the work we still have to do to fulfill its promise.
In Octavia Butler’s "The Books of Martha," God tasks Martha, a Black female writer, to propose one change that would help humankind find “less destructive, more peaceful, sustainable ways to live." Martha and God discuss all the possible outcomes and unintended consequences of different interventions. The story raises the question of our own willingness to make the sacrifices necessary to make a more just or equitable world, and the ways in which our personal experience colors what we see.
Insights and reactions shared by the Participants
The participants found the story, the discussions and the overall experience invited them to a meaningful dialogue about issues that need to, but are rarely, discussed during the flow of everyday work. They felt comfortable in the context of the story to debate tough topics and to share their perspectives in a trusting and caring environment.
They talked about free will and humility, and our obligations as ordinary individuals to make meaningful change. They examined the ethics and morals of innovation and how to ensure we leave no one behind.
Specifically, they commented:
“Understanding and being able to speak out on different perspectives in a safe environment is enlightening and motivating.”
“Having the facilitator to help foster the discussion and ask probing questions helps foster becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable, given the nature of the topic.”
“It’s such a good opportunity in a low stakes environment to learn how the people I work with are thinking.”
“Having a short story as the main reading assignment brings more focus to the conversation.”
“It was a very deep and rich conversation with many interpretations.”
“We all need mentors (as God is to Martha in the story) to help motivate and nurture our decision making and creativity.”
“We talked about how ordinary people are asked to do extraordinary things. That sticks with me as I think about my own commitment to action to drive equity and inclusion.”
“Reflection Point is a great tool to build the muscle of conversation.”