35th Annual Conference

March 27-29, 2023


Clapback: Building Radical Boundaries for Tone Policing and Tokenism

60-minute Workshop

Day 2

Session Code: VS-6
When: March 28, 2023
Level: Advanced
Track: Diversity Leadership
Presenters: Femina Ajayi-Hackworth, Amnesty International  |  Ashley Oolman, Allied Folk
Prerequisite: Attendee has served at least one year in a DEI role to clearly understand their ability to impact change in their organization; an understanding of power dynamics within workplace culture


Every DEI practitioner knows the feeling of their work being revised, simplified, or watered down. When charged with advancing change, it is frustrating to face varying forms of resistance at what feels like every turn. In two years, we’ve learned that tone policing in the form of conflict avoidance, dominant group centering, and power hoarding needs less time, energy, and resources.

Transformation can be tough. Come to explore what is happening, who is causing it, and why tone policing continues to be a problem. Most importantly, what do we as DEI leaders do about it?

In this session, we will get real about tone policing in DEI work. Participants will discuss how surface-level inclusion and tokenism have infiltrated DEI and can make it feel impossible to create change. At a time when companies are throwing together DEI positions without a plan or power, we will learn how to stand up to uninformed opinions, counterproductive steps backward, and exhausting conversations focused on comfort versus progress.

Join us in this necessary conversation about how to navigate resistance, leverage your expertise, and continue influencing change.

Learning Outcomes:

• Examine if your organization is providing surface-level inclusion that will not advance change
• Learn how to identify tone policing and how to avoid perpetuating this problematic issue
• Explore how to effectively “clap back” through stories from strong DEI leaders who have navigated tone policing

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion®
2211 Riverside Ave, CB 54
Minneapolis, MN 55454
(612) 373-5994

Photos by Sarah Morreim Photography
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