What Baking a Cake Taught Me About Inclusion

May 03, 2023

On occasion, I get up from desk in my home office and go into the kitchen to create something. Something came over me this week and I did it a few times. This week I enjoyed creating a couple of new dishes - Asian Coleslaw with Shrimp and Shrimp Scampi pasta from scratch and it was delicious.

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I also baked a lemon pound cake. I have baked a cake before but this time I looked at the ingredients differently. For some reason, I took care when adding each ingredient and paid attention to how the consistency changed once I added ingredient after ingredient. The cake tastes best when the recipe is followed precisely. Meaning that after the butter and sugar was mixed, my recipe states that I must start and end with dry ingredients and alternate dry, then wet ingredients. 

Speaking of ingredients - on their own the ingredients are individual items with a singular taste; which in the case of flour, is not tasty. However, without flour you will have a sweet, flat, not-so-cakey thing that you wouldn’t want to eat. Essentially, the cake is not a cake without flour.

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I do a lot of work in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion space. I received a new revelation this week when baking a lemon pound cake. So I am using my cake baking time to raise up thoughts on diversity and inclusion. I recognize the value of each ingredient needed to make a lemon pound cake. If I don't have the right amount for each ingredient, the cake will not taste or look as it should. I really recognized that the ultimate value is when all of these ingredients are mixed together in its proper proportion. At this point something wonderful happens that puts a smile on people's face when they taste it. 

Food is something that we enjoy and some have made a living putting certain ingredients together in such a way that you experience creativity and innovation in every bite. Ultimately the taste is unexplainable. These are the moments that leave a lasting impression and make you wonder why you hadn’t experienced that dish sooner. Same with inclusion.

Like ingredients; recognizing the individuality and the value of every person is identifying one's understanding of diversity.

When I intentionally focus on understanding each ingredient and the use of each ingredient and how it responds to the other ingredients; then and only then does inclusion happen at a level that it benefits other people. 

It’s hard to be an individual ingredient and add ultimate value if you never desire to mix with others. For people, there is a level of maturity and understanding needed to realize that – yes, I am special but I am even more special when I am immersed into something bigger than me and my needs.

Inclusion doesn’t happen just because we are all together.

Inclusion happens when we all agree that we will give a little of ourselves to create something that would otherwise be impossible if we tried it alone.

There is no coercion – there is only an intentional willingness to be involved. This is what happens when we collaborate – we squash the instinct to compete and be good on our own. We realize the value of being great together! This is when we understand our purpose and the opportunity to be great through engagement and collaboration and to help others be great along the way.

There may be a few successes that you can accomplish alone but what if I shared with you there are many insurmountable successes that you can experience with others. This is the value of inclusion. No one ingredient makes a cake. All of the ingredients added together is what make a delicious lemon pound cake with lemon icing.

So – who wants some cake!

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