WOCA 2022: The Value of ‘Shared Sisterhood’

“Shared Sisterhood” is an important part of building a more inclusive, diverse and equitable world and workplace, and it’s a concept that applies to not only women, but to anyone and everyone.

That was the message that was projected from the stage of the Muhammad Ali Center at our 5th-annual Women of Color and Their Allies event held in Louisville on Sept. 21, held in conjunction with Humana.

Dr. Tina Opie, Associate Professor of Management at Babson College, and Dr. Beth Livingston, Associate Professor at the University of Iowa, shared insights from their forthcoming book “Shared Sisterhood: How to Take Collective Action for Racial and Gender Equity at Work.” 

The goal of Shared Sisterhood is to “dismantle systemic inequity,” Dr. Opie said, which is laid out in three practices in the forthcoming book:

  1. Dig
  2. Bridge
  3. Collective Action

She said the first step is about “surfacing your own assumptions about things like race and gender.” This may be asking yourself when you first realized you were white or when you realized others were treated differently based on race or ethnicity.

“That may sound like a common practice, but what’s really interesting when we’ve done this in practice, is that it forces people to be honest with themselves,” she said. “Share sisterhood drags those private, dark thoughts you may have in your own room by yourself into a place where you can hold them up and interrogate them so that you can be honest with yourself.”

Pre-order your copy of Shared Sisterhood today!

When Dr. Opie and Dr. Livingston met, they weren’t sure if they could be friends based on their differences as a Black woman and a white woman. But they gave it a shot and now have a great friendship, which Dr. Opie encouraged others to do. 

“Please put aside your defensiveness, your distancing and your denial,” she said. “Women of color are worth developing authentic connections with and your life will be improved.”

When talking about Shared Sisterhood, Dr. Livingston said it’s all about building connections. 

“Shared sisterhood is for everybody, regardless of gender,” she said. “It’s about finding people who share those values of equity.”

Watch all the sessions from our 2022 Women of Color and Their Allies event here!

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