As 2020 comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting a ton on the where organizations should go next in moving from a place of D.E.I. programs not resulting in real change to ones that are centering racial equity always.
9 things that I think are holding companies back? See below:
1. Attempting to make diversity, equity, and inclusion (d.e.i.) synonymous to racial equity or anti-racism
The work, approach, and even the core definitions are not the same and are important to distinguish before you commit to doing the work.
2. Removing the word equity and even more specifically racial equity from the conversation.
Just so we’re clear: diversity+inclusion does not automatically equal equity…and just because you are including someone whose diverse in the room does not mean you are doing so in an equitable way. Bring equity back into the conversation and in fact, prioritize it if you truly are about wanting to realize everyone getting to the same starting point.
3. Requesting Implicit Bias training….and nothing else
One training does not mean you have now figured it all out…and one training on bias does not mean you have even begun to actually address your own biases. Get beyond the desire to request a quick workshop because your team is asking for it…and get invested in understanding the roots of why they are asking for it and what a full “unlearning” program needs to address.
4. Pretending that you don’t need senior leadership support for actual change to occur
I appreciate all of the ground up efforts happening in organizations and I believe those should absolutely continue…but only with the realization that at some point, there will be a hurdle and the hurdle is usually the most senior leaders on a team. Figure out how to get them on board or how to get them off board with getting committed to actual change. Otherwise, can you change things? Yes. But typically, it’s a much slower process.
5. Allocating money to everything else but D.E.I. work but then saying it’s important
Organizations who are requesting trainings and coachings to help them unlearn and change for 500 people with a budget of $2,000? Let’s break that down and recognize this means the org is saying they are willing to $4 spend per person for the whole year. Is that really the investment you are saying is a priority??? Make the math make sense, invest in real money in your priority work, and stop going to external experts and asking for a full program on a dollar menu budget.
6. Grouping every identity that’s non-white as people of color and creating programs for one group: people of color
I’m just going to leave this one here and ask you to break up with homogenous categorizing in this new year.
7. The term “culture add”
I recognize that there has been an evolution from “culture fit” to “culture add” that now everyone is so excited to lean in on but tell me: why would I want to be a culture add to a company whose culture is already a hot mess?? I’m not a culture add, I’m a culture fixer and now I’m carrying the burden of changing a culture that is not even ready for me. Hhm. Maybe we should look less for a culture anything that someone may bring and focus on just letting people know the culture they are walking into.
8. Defining a DEI statement but not real commitments to change
The statements that came out this year were beautifully written…but that’s all a lot of them were: words. It’s a great time to turn your words into actions.
9. Not naming the actual diversity you are looking to have in your organization…and why
“We want to increase our diversity” can look like a team of all white men and women because diversity meant bringing in more women to an all-male team. Name the diversity you need to focus on explicitly and get clear instead of pretending that all diversity efforts are the same and lead to the same outcomes.
These are my hopes, which I recognize may be different than yours. The point? If you spent the year watching and learning but not unlearning and changing as a entrepreneur, a team, a company, it’s time to look at why and change what isn’t working.
I’ll be doing the same.