Don't Make Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a Task
“You’re a racist,” said a client of mine in a meeting three years ago. This was well into my journey to learn more about my white privilege, which I knew I had, and my own racism, which I knew I did not have.
After that, I caught myself assuming things about people. "That Black woman must have been raised by a single mom, my new Latino colleague must speak Spanish fluently, that Asian man I met at an event must be in high tech." I am racist.
While I’m not an expert on this subject, I am willing to have conversations about racism and incorporate some things I do know about - Company Culture, Leadership, and Making Change Happen.
There’s a plethora of articles on this subject written long before May of 2020. I’ve included a few below, and here are my takeaways for you:
Recognize what’s happening: Bring your employees together. Not just your employees of color. Not just those who get it. Include those who you know who are outright biased. Have many conversations on the subject. Listen and learn. I mean really listen.
Articulate the why: Why is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) important in your organization? Besides the fact that it’s the right thing to do because you’re dealing with human beings, it’s the right thing to do for business. Diverse ideas, perspectives, backgrounds, and skills help your company grow and thrive. Google the "Why on Diversity/Equity/Inclusion" and you'll get lots of expert advice.
Integrate DEI Into your Values and Culture: First, if you have Diversity, Equity and/or Inclusion as core values, identify and articulate the actions and behaviors you want employees to exhibit. Those actions and behaviors represent your culture. Culture is “the way we do things around here in order to be successful.” If the way you do things includes Black jokes at lunch or selecting resumes of names familiar to you like Mark and Elizabeth over Jesus and Diamond, these behaviors and actions don’t support your core values.
Think and act for the long-term: While you may be out helping communities by building homes or feeding those in need, that’s great - keep it up! AND consider going out into middle schools to talk about your profession and find ways to invite young people of color to talk about the racism they’ve experienced and how, together, you can make change happen.
Start with YOU: Most importantly, your entire leadership team must be on the same page and behind your efforts every day. If you own your own small business, you are that executive “team.” If you're not in leadership, forward this blog, and the articles below to them. You can be the one to make a difference.
This is a tough subject in a tough time. Small steps lead to big change. Don’t give up and don’t make this a “task” you need to check off your list.
Articles to read and forward:
We now provide virtual culture facilitation, leadership coaching, and DiSC communication techniques.