EP 266: Building An Inclusive Community With Whole30’s Melissa Urban & Dr. Carrie Kholi-Murchison

Feb 25, 2020 | Community, Culture, Podcast

The Nitty-Gritty:

  • The day Melissa Urban realized she needed to do more to make the Whole30 community more inclusive
  • Why she’s chosen to be public about her learning when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • How Dr. Carrie Kholi-Murchison is taking the lead on efforts to make sure everyone feels seen and heard within the community
  • What unique challenges Whole30 faces in their DEI efforts
  • Why listening is at the heart of so many of the initiatives they’re rolling out

Who’s missing here?

What points of view, what lived stories, what experiences aren’t represented here?

Up until a few years ago, this is a question I didn’t think to ask.

The reason I didn’t ask those questions, simply put, is because the spaces I was in—the spaces I had created—seemed so normal to me. The spaces I was in and the spaces I had created were full of middle class, white women.

If I’m being frank, the only question I would ask from time to time were: where are the men?

Which probably just further proves my point… I was used to seeing men around, so I questioned it when they weren’t there. I wasn’t used to seeing people who had different points of view, different lived stories, and different experiences than mine so I didn’t notice they were missing.

Who’s missing here?

It’s a question that asks so much more of me as a leader than to “simply” even out the demographics.

“Who’s missing here?” asks me to consider why people are missing in the first place. What is it about the way I’ve built my business, my community, my brand that doesn’t create space for people who are different from me?

Over the last few years, like many white women I know, I’ve been on a personal growth journey to better understand systematic oppression and internalized bias—and their role in my business.

I’m personally invested in this journey. I’m politically invested in this journey. And yes, I see this journey as integral to my effectiveness as a leader and entrepreneur, too.

I do not have answers. I don’t even have all the questions! But I’m learning and sharing that learning with you is important to me.

While there are many white women entrepreneurs who are on this journey with me, few have been so public about her learning, her missteps, and the action she’s taking in her business as Whole30‘s Melissa Urban.

About a year ago, shortly after I finished my own life-changing Whole30, I noticed that Melissa announced she was searching for someone to lead diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts for her company. I kept my eye on those developments and always enjoyed seeing her update her audience on the hire and progress they were making.

So when we decided to do this month on leadership, I knew I wanted to talk with Melissa and the woman she hired to fill this role, Dr. Carrie Kholi-Murchison, now Whole30’s Director of People & Culture. I wanted to find out why and how Melissa has been leading so publicly on this front—and I also wanted to find out what Kholi was doing to lead this change internally in the organization.

This conversation has been several months in the making—even though we recorded it less than a week ago! And I am so excited to share it with you.

Before I tell you what you’ll hear in this conversation, I want to preface everything by saying that…

I understand that Whole30 is probably a much bigger organization than the one you’re running.

It might be tempting to think that these issues are something that you need to deal with when you grow your community to hundreds of thousands… or even a thousand people!

But creating systems to evaluate internalized bias, building more inclusive communities, checking yourself on how you might be doing unintended harm…

…these are things that every single small business owner needs to consider right now. “Who is missing here?” is a question you can and should ask from the very beginning—no matter your identity or background.

Inclusion is not something you level up to.

It’s something you build into the foundation of how you build your business.

If you want to make an impact, if you want to truly do good with your company, if you want to lead, this is your responsibility.

Together, regardless of our different backgrounds, different experiences, and different points of view, we can create communities that invite people to truly belong—no matter what their particular intersection of identities or experiences might be.

There are plenty of great ideas you can take from this conversation regardless of the size of your business. And if you’re unsure of where to start, I highly recommend checking out the work of Erica Courdae, who we featured in Episode 263, Alethea Fitzpatrick, who we featured in Episode 242, and The Opt In podcast with Aurora and Kelly.

Alright, here’s what Melissa, Kholi, and I talked about in this conversation: how Melissa gradually woke up to the lack of diversity and inclusion in the Whole30 community, why she thought free equalled accessible and open to everyone, and the work she’s had to do to not immediately get defensive when someone points out something potentially harmful. Kholi shares how she pushed Melissa on whether Whole30 was just a wellness cult for while women, the challenges of doing DEI work with an internet business, and the specific projects they’ve launched to make the Whole30 a more inclusive community.

Now, let’s find out what works for Melissa Urban and Dr. Carrie Kholi-Murchison!

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Host of What Works

Tara is a podcaster, small business community leader, strategist, and speaker. She’s been helping small business owners build stronger businesses for over a decade.  

Tara McMullin, What Works Weekly Newsletter

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