AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR AND LEADERSHIP TRAINER JULIE KRATZ.
How would you describe/introduce yourself and what you do in 2-3 sentences?
I am a speaker, author, and trainer that works with organizations to create inclusive workplaces where everyone feels seen, heard, and [a sense of] belonging. I began my business close to a decade ago to advocate for gender equality and help develop women in corporate America.
On my own ally journey, I realized over time that I could not advocate for any one group without advocating for ALL marginalized populations in corporate spaces. I now primarily helping organizations and their employees understand how they can better show up as allies for others at work - and now with Little Allies, at home, too.
Speaking of Little Allies, what was the ultimate driving force that led to the creation of your new children’s book?
Last year as I experienced the pandemic pregnant and had conversations about racial justice with my daughters, even I struggled to find the right things to say (and I have these conversations with adults every day for a living). This is why I wrote Little Allies, to help parents, caregivers, and educators have these delicate but necessary conversations with kids.
Children form biases as early as age 2 and they're cemented by age 12. We're not protecting our children by not talking about difficult issues of inequality and systemic racism. They need to understand that they have a role to play especially if they're granted privileges due to their skin color, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ability.
Can you describe the nonprofit aspect of your book model? Which nonprofits do you work with, how do you choose them, and why is this an important part of your mission?
Little Allies is a passion project for me and my hope is that it will inspire change and give back to the community. Our team decided to partner with an amazing local organization for the first 6 months. 100% of our online book sales will be donated to ProAct Indy. It's really important that we're connected to the communities in which we want to make an impact so we decided to partner with organizations that are already in the trenches, doing the hard work. ProAct empowers young people in Indy to actively transform their communities via meaningful community service and development opportunities. They bring together organizations across social, racial, and economic boundaries through meaningful service projects & social equity training. It's amazing to see their impact in my city.
We have begun speaking to businesses and organizations about concepts found in Little Allies and sharing how employees can continue fostering inclusive environments at home. Spreading the message that way is what allows us to donate all book sale proceeds to our nonprofit partners. We're excited to see which partner organizations we get to work with in the future.
What has been the most rewarding part of the Little Allies journey so far in particular?
When families share their stories and pictures of their kid(s) reading Little Allies, it is one of the best feelings I have had. We've been receiving feedback from adults who say they are learning as much or more about allyship and inclusion as their kids are based on the conversations that this book has helped spark in their homes.
After spending ~20 years guiding business leaders to be more inclusive, how would you describe the pivot from adults to children? Any surprising similarities or differences you’ve learned about these two audiences when spreading your message of inclusion?
Adult's biases are well baked by the time I reach them to have conversations about allyship and inclusion in the workplace. I take great pride in helping organizations make changes and strive towards more inclusive environments. That said, with Little Allies and beginning to discuss concepts like allyship and inclusion with young people, it becomes very clear that we cannot wait until people are adults to understand concepts like empathy, vulnerability, and advocacy. Young people already innately understand many of these concepts - racism is a learned behavior and biases are encouraged and cemented as we grow up. By providing the necessary tools and language early to children, we're equipping them to interact with their friends, schoolmates, colleagues, etc. through a more inclusive lens (and be better fellow humans overall).
What can readers do today to encourage more inclusive conversations both in and outside of their own homes?
Parents have told us that they want to have this conversation with kids but they're so afraid of not having the right answers. However, by not having the conversation we're not helping them understand that there's a problem that needs to be solved. And we all have a role in solving the problems of sexism, racism, in all the systems of inequality that we still face today.
What is your hope for our future generations?
The latest forecast is that we are centuries away from reaching equality from a gender and race perspective. If I get to be a small part of creating a world where that forecast is less grim for my kids is success for me.
Want to learn more about Little Allies? Give them a shout at thelittleallies.com.
You can also inquire about discounted bulk orders for teachers or organizations! They'd love to help promote your classroom book order fundraiser.
Additionally, join their upcoming 6-week anti-racism course for parents and leaders titled Unpacking Racism - it kicks off August 20, 2021!
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