A Community Business Initiative

EXPERT INTERVIEW – Rosalie Chamberlain


>> We took the opportunity to interview leading expert, Rosalie Chamberlain, the author of Conscious Leadership in the Workplace: A Guidebook to Making a Difference One Person at a Time.

Can you tell us a bit about you and your history? 

I am an organizational inclusiveness consultant and executive and leadership coach, advising on a wide range of related issues. I serve as a speaker, facilitator and coach for organizations and firms across the United States and international organizations. In addition, I am a writer and frequent commentator on diversity, having authored Conscious Leadership in the Workplace: A Guidebook to Making a Difference One Person at a Time (2015) ConsciousLeadershipAtWork.com, and have been quoted in numerous business and legal publications, including the The New York Times. I am a former Diversity & Inclusion Manager for a national/international law firm. My expertise includes the areas of diversity and inclusion strategy, multicultural competency, leadership development, talent management, and managing and leveraging diverse talent. I work with individuals and groups on leadership development, team building, dynamic relationships, effective communication, career transitions and professional career goals.

I believe I have unique experience and perspective with respect to organizational diversity and inclusion, having worked with a broad range of multicultural organizations with diversity challenges. My clients include large law firms, legal departments, law school programs, corporate, government and private industries, both nationally and internationally. I work with the Center for Legal Inclusiveness, Diversity Lab’s On-Ramp Fellowship Program and the Women-in-Law-Hackathon, and various state and regional Associations for Legal Administration chapters.

Educational programs that I develop and facilitate include classes on Diversity and Inclusion Awareness, Exploring and Understanding Unconscious Bias, Cross Cultural Competencies, Generational Diversity, People with Disabilities, Privilege and Rank, Conscious Leadership, Talent Management, Career Development and Diversity Skills Management (RTCT model). These programs have been presented for audiences ranging from single coaching sessions to over 200 attendees.

I am a Cornell University ILR Certified Diversity Professional Advanced Practitioner (CCDP/AP) and a certified coach through iPEC (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching) and the ICF (International Coaching Federation). I am certified in Myers Briggs, Taylor Protocols Core Values Index, iPEC Coach and Energy Leadership Index Assessments, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), MP.

Why are you passionate about diversity and inclusion?

I grew up in the southern part of the United States in Atlanta, Ga. My formative years were in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, most of which were pre-civil rights in the United States. Having been taught some extreme exclusionary beliefs around race, gender, religion, physical ability and sexual orientation, I began deeply questioning as a young adult and over the course of my adulthood challenged beliefs and developed a deep passion for creating change and more inclusive organizations, communities and society. Through my involvement with diversity and inclusion efforts in areas of my life, I chose to deepen my knowledge by enrolling in diversity management programs to further my understanding and achieve the career goal of being a change agent and advocate for awareness, justice and equality. I have a deep belief that we have the ability to be inclusive and work together and it takes the individual focus of each person to look within and see how they can contribute to the greater whole. My book includes a focus on bringing the whole self to what you do and that includes the mind, body and spirit.

What experiences have led you to do the work you do today?

As mentioned, growing up in the pre-civil rights era, I witnessed, racism and sexism mostly and exclusive beliefs about religion. These deeply imprinted my psyche and caused me to question and work for change. The fact that we are a global society with multicultural workplaces makes it even more important that we focus on how we can collaborate and work together, bringing the best skills and talents to gain the outcome we desire. 

What is your experience in Asia?

My experience in Asia has been as a visitor/tourist. However, I have worked within organizations and coached/consulted in organizations that have broad diversity and I have personally worked with a number of Asian expats as well as Asian Americans. One of our programs at my former law firm was an Asian Attorney Forum where we spent a day and a half building understanding of unique experiences of Asian lawyers within a majority US firm and legal environment.

Congratulations on the publication of your book Conscious Leadership in the Workplace: A Guidebook to Making a Difference One Person at a Time. What led you to write the book? 

In doing my work as a coach and working with creating inclusive organizations, I decided about 11 years ago that I wanted to write a book that took a deeper look into the personal responsibility individuals need to create their best life and to create organizations that thrive and everyone has the opportunity to succeed. I firmly believe that it is a partnership with the organization and its individuals to be fully productive. I work the organizations to create that environment, and I coach individuals to maximize their influence and potential. A disconnect can occur between an organization and its workforce when all expectations are placed on the other to make things happen and create satisfaction. It takes both. An organization can have all of the policies and procedures in place that sound great that could provide for a culture that is collaborative, successful and delivers excellence. For some of my clients, that means taking stock of where they are and setting goals for improvement.  

Can you give us the elevator pitch as to what the book is about?  We are all leaders, whether we lead others or our own life and career. The book is about self-awareness.  It is a guidebook for a self-journey into understanding how effectively you lead. It addresses how you appear to others, individual biases and beliefs, as well as behaviors that block and hold others or yourself from achieving the success you want to succeed.

Who should read it and what would be the key take aways for readers?

I believe everyone should read it. I believe you will have a deeper understanding of the way you think, the actions you take based on beliefs and biases and you will be able to make conscious choices rather than responding or reacting with habitual and often unconscious actions. Most of us have untapped talent and resources that we don’t utilize. Why is that? What are the reasons this happens when individuals want to contribute and add value. It is sometimes the environment and sometimes the beliefs within the individual that causes this to happen. Self-awareness helps set the tone for creating more effective leaders and bringing out the best in anyone in the organization.

Have you seen a rising of interest in this area over the past 5 years? If so, why do you think it is?

Yes, I finally do.  When I started this work, many organizations were afraid to look at bias and its impact. That is changing and has changed significantly for some. The global marketplace is requiring deeper awareness and broader perspectives. Smart organizations know this. Also, the rise of racial tensions, religious intolerance, and inclusiveness of the LGBTQ community has propelled many to seek ways to stop the intolerance and madness. We cannot sit back wish things were different and expect change to happen. We have to take an active role to bring awareness and change about if we want to continue to progress and not digress.

The DIAN team found your chapter on ‘fear’ very interesting; can you tell us a bit about this?

I love that chapter because I believe that fear is the underlying issue for exclusion. It does not mean that there is fear of something truly terrifying, although that is included. We have fears all the time about what we anticipate will or will not happen; or about how someone will be and it separates and excludes. I use an acronym around F.E.A.R. © and explain what happens to us when we get caught up in fear. First is a flight or fight reaction; then we exclude something or someone, which includes possibilities and opportunities; and the cycle for avoiding is in place and it is a negative feedback loop as long as we reacting with habitual responses. Transformation can happen when we stop the cycle through awareness and really examine what is going on and how we make the decisions that we make. It is a very interesting process and you may find that you consciously choose different actions and behaviors.

What is one of your favourite books/TED talks/research relating to D&I - and why?

I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The danger of a single story TED Talk. I love her books, as well. The idea that there is one way to view the world and others is a deterrent to inclusion. We have to be open to hearing perspectives understand we experience and see the world and situations differently.

I also like Vernã Myers’ How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them.  I have worked/co-facilitated with her and agree that we as individuals have to address our biases. My book definitely states that and we need not be afraid of them. We all have them and we cannot make change if we are not willing to look at what we do that stops change and does not contribute to achieving the type of world and society that we want to achieve. 

Are you/have you worked/working on anything that we can tell our members about?  

I have been working with a number of clients doing programs on my book and programs on Biases and on Privilege. These are hot topics and are well received. As I said, the climate for looking at these issues is changing. 

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