Michelle Obama: “There is No Right Way to Be Human”

If we want to make a positive impact in the workplace and in society, the most basic place to start is at home, with our children.

In Thursday’s intimate mainstage chat with Steve Pemberton, global chief diversity officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, former First Lady Michelle Obama showed her passion for not only raising her own children, but for caring for our nation’s children. Children are what energize Mrs. Obama and give her hope.

“You never know what one word can do for a kid,” she told us. “Kids are born into this world fine. We mess them up.”

When asked where she finds her own authenticity, Mrs. Obama attributes her parents to providing a solid foundation of constant, unconditional love.

Her advice to others for living their true, authentic selves? “Be proud of your own story, no matter what it is,” she said. “There is no right way to be human.”

Pemberton and Mrs. Obama also discussed how we can make the workplace more inclusive, especially for women. It’s about creating workplaces that support healthy families. Mrs. Obama urged HR leaders to have conversations with their employees – both men and women – about what’s working when it comes to family leave and flexible work schedules. Open the dialogue. Use your position in the organization to make a positive change.

She also stressed that inclusion is not just about big change. Inclusion starts small – in our own homes, places of worship, neighborhoods. “The biggest impacts happen right around you,” she said.

Do you agree with Mrs. Obama? Where do you find your authenticity? What steps are you taking to make your organization more human and inclusive?

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