DEI in Action – The 3-Step Process of Moving From Conceptual Understanding to Integrated Practical Application
"I've spent the last few years learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion, my staff is on board, but I just don't know what to do now?"
This is a common predicament for organizational leaders who, although they are ready to make a positive impact and be a part of societal progress, just don't know how to take their understanding of DEI to the next level – into action. I understand the confusion because we have all the want, excitement, passion, and willingness; we've learned about the concepts and ideas, but we don't know how to convert that into actual tangible, substantial outcomes.
The solution is a simple 3-step approach:
Use this as your starting point and outline because not knowing where to begin is guaranteed to sabotage your DEI success. If you can only "talk "about diversity and being inclusive and lead discussions with your...
Traditional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts have focused heavily on recruitment and retention, totally missing the bigger picture issues that have kept either from having deep impact or being sustainable. The emphasis has been on “diversity hires'': Where are they? How do we get our position descriptions to them? How do we convey a compelling story about our organization that will draw them to want to work for us?
We create targeted lists of places we think all the “diverse candidates” will be: HBCUs, community and activism focused groups, specified professional organizations. We send our one recruiter who seems to be either a member of the target community or comfortable in intercultural interactions as the spokesperson. And we aren’t successful.
It’s been a bit of a dog chasing its tail story for decades. In 2022, traditional focus on recruitment and retention won’t help us build a diverse and competitive organization.
No matter how hard we try, we exist in a world where social media filters create an unattainable standard – an unattainable standard of beauty, life, relationships, and reality altogether. So, how do we create space to feel like we are fully seen? Sure, sometimes posting a picture of a new outfit or an inside look at a special event makes us feel relevant like we're participating in the world in which we exist. But there are certainly more ways of getting the sense of fulfillment we seek, right?
For me, I look for opportunities that check three boxes. Something about which I'm:
Passion is Irreplaceable
Passion isn't reserved solely for love or special interests, which is the typical context. No - passion is simply a strong feeling or emotion. So, all things worthwhile, especially life itself, require us to have the capacity for passion - that driving, motivating, propelling force. Andrew...
Life of George Washington–The farmer; painted by Stearns
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!
Today is the day, in the United States, that we recognize and honor the life and legacy of Dr. King. It’s a day of reflection, service, and recommitment to enacting values that promote freedom, justice, and opportunity equitably afforded to all people. My hope is that you are actually pausing to reflect and appreciate all those, including but not limited to Dr. King, who was part of the incredible journey towards justice that we continue to enact.
There are countless ways to honor Dr. King’s legacy today. I’m sure your local community has activities that you can participate in. Or you can initiate a conversation with your children or friends. Or volunteer. Perhaps as importantly, my ask of you is to stay curious, pay attention, and practice stepping forward–not just in the face of blatant acts of bigotry. Sometimes the supposedly naive yet hurtful...
Everyone is “aware” - we all “know.” Over the last several years, society has been a part of a shared experience of becoming more “aware” - of racism, discrimination, misogyny and sexism, homophobia and transphobia, classism - the gamut of destructive ideologies. And as well-intended and necessary as awareness is, it’s been used so much, or overly prioritized with nothing supporting it, that it’s almost exhausted its meaning.
Cultural awareness is a fantastic first start…in 1995. We are in 2022, a time when basic understanding is not a special feat, and certainly not optional. We are constantly being fed with information that should be making us curious, incentivizing action. In contemporary workplaces, the expectation is even higher. Today’s workforce is demanding a new level of activism from their employers. They expect champions. Being a champion is exactly that, shifting from awareness and even a deep sense of care...
It’s necessary to focus on the experience of marginalized communities, not to obsess about “identity” as would be used as a pejorative in today’s constant cultural arguments, but to concretize the fact that marginalized communities don’t just have a different experience; in many instances, they have a different reality. There are universal human experiences that unite us all—the need for safety and security; desire for caring relationships.
There are also experiences of people from marginalized communities that are difficult to surmise, given the array of contexts and circumstances. Those experiences span history and multiple generations, involve systemic and societal constructs, and run the gamut of struggle and the human condition: oppression, discrimination, prejudice, abuse, despair, self-hate, isolation, paranoia, pressure, and frustration. In attempting to address the negative impact of this collection of experiences, we struggle to...
What’s the greatest thing in the world? What is that “thing” that everyone is looking for? Is it money, fame, success, or love? If you survey any number of people from any demographic, they will all list one, if not all, of these. But out of all of these good things, what is the highest good?
In Aristotle’s classic of moral theory, Nicomachean Ethics, one section discusses human pursuits. He examines the various fields of science and art and explores what everyone is trying to accomplish - the end goal. The commonality he finds is that the aim of all human pursuits is happiness. He concluded that happiness was the highest good because you don’t pursue happiness for the sake of anything else; it is the ultimate end goal, the good that all good things view as their destiny.
The founders of the United States immortalized “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. But even the concept of...
Endings help us encode. They provide a conclusion and embed the gift of finality, allowing the opportunity for new ideas, relationships, and seasons to be imagined, created, renewed, or reborn. But the beauty of endings only exists when they exercise their utility in being definitive. In other words, the endings have to actually happen, which is how most people or organizations find themselves stuck in an inevitable perpetual cycle of readdressing things that should have been put to rest. With a better understanding of endings, what they are, and how to utilize them effectively, we can finally take those steps of progression, elevate to our highest potential, and birth new beginnings.
"It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn't matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over."
― Paulo Coelho, The Zahir
"Anywhere where the humanity of people is undermined, anywhere where people are left in the dust, there we will find our cause."
Desmond Tutu died earlier this week. He was 90 years old. As I look at my office bookshelf, I see his books and think, how did this religious leader who lives on the other side of the planet find his way into my life? How did this man, living under such an oppressive regime, break through the systems of apartheid? How was he able to rise to his position of leadership as the first Black archbishop within the Anglican faith? How has he, despite the conservatism associated with his faith and geography, become such an ally for the LGBTQA++ communities?
Desmond Tutu has had such a profound impact on me, an outsized impact that goes beyond books and translates into my life.
Since March 2020, I have had hundreds of managers ask me the same question, "How can I nurture a genuine connection with my team in a virtual environment?" Even if some people are physically coming to work, in many cases entire teams are not. Or at least they aren’t all in the same space, at the same time, like during pre-Covid times.
My answer: You nurture a connection with a lot of intentional choices. Intention is about where you put your attention. Think about it, people are logging on from their homes. In the background, (your background and their immediate surroundings) are pets, children, contractors, laundry to be folded, plants to be watered, leftovers in the fridge. The distractions are endless. Nurturing a cohesive and engaged team, which is absolutely the role of managers, is more challenging than ever.
Your intentional practice begins with paying attention to how you are showing up. Are you intentionally setting aside other work, like open documents or...