By Ellen McGirt
Updated: December 6, 2018 2:59 PM ET

Hello everyone:

Right now I’m traveling back from the Massachusetts Conference for Women, an extraordinary event that convened more than 10,000 women (and plenty of people of other genders) to talk about their work, the world, and a more inclusive future. I’ll share footage and quotes when they’re available.

But I wanted to take a moment to thank my three panel-mates who participated in this morning’s working session on breaking barriers.

Our experts were Kate Gulliver, who oversees the talent team at e-commerce site Wayfair; Sam Rapoport, the senior director of football development, National Football League; and Cecile Richards, a national leader for women’s rights and social and economic justice, perhaps best known as the former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

All three are qualified, committed, and dedicated professionals and all three are blonde, white women.

The Conference itself is strongly committed to diversity in all forms and the programming reflects that. But as it turned out, these three remarkable experts were available at that time, on that day. It happens in the conference business.

So, we brought it up.

At their suggestion, we kicked off the panel with an easy and straightforward acknowledgement that resonated with the crowd. Then, we made sure to cite data and stories that represented all women and came prepared to highlight areas where white women could better support underrepresented ones. It was a simple act of modeling allyship and I was glad to be a part of it.

We hit upon many subjects but we all agreed that the most powerful inclusion tool is also the simplest: Listen. Listen to women of color about their lives and the barriers they face, and believe them. If you’re in a position to design a conversation, team, project, system or company that addresses these barriers, then you’re doing the work as an ally.

But acknowledging what’s true is a great start.

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