D.E.I. – Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Is this a catch phrase in your business or is it truly part of your culture or have you not even heard the term and it is not at all on your radar??

I find the idea of intentionally making diversity & inclusion part of the conversation and something that people are embracing as a needed part of culture, strategy, & values a great thing, however it can go so wrong.

I am blessed to have my daughter attending a school that has made a very intentional effort to be diverse & inclusive as well as treasure the uniqueness of every individual.  Currently this school is interviewing for a new Head of School after like a zillion years of our wonderful current head.  One of the parts of the process is a “townhall” type meeting where parents can ask questions, etc.  One of these candidates was the catalyst for this blog, as he was discussing his philosophy and past experiences with intentionally creating an institution that addresses DEI.

It occurred to me that you must be 100% committed to understanding what that means for your organization and how you want to proceed.  Here is the thing if you are just doing it half heartedly and wanting to make sure you are not being biased so you create a committee to start some “DEI Initiatives”  STOP!  You must start with how willing are you to push the envelope.  It is my opinion that if you if you aren’t willing to go big or go home – like spending $40K on building a non-binary bathroom etc. then you may end up doing more harm than good.  

Here’s how that looks, You announce to the organization that you have created a DEI committee to address any concerns and make sure you are being equitable to everyone.  Then someone raises the bathroom issue with the committee and you decide that money can’t be allocated that way or that “you never intended for this to be such a drastic thing.”  What has happened is you have just gone backwards in trying to be more inclusive, you have made the statement that it isn’t really your priority or worse that you do not believe their should really be equity for “everyone”.  

My point is the clarity piece first.  If what you want to do is make certain you are equitable & inclusive above ALL else then go all in and I and many others will commend you whole heartedly.  However, if you just want to get better and make sure that your organization isn’t being biased against any race, religion, gender, etc. then start the initiative by stating the goal.  For example, it may look like, “Our goal is to look at all current hiring and training practices & the working conditions to ensure that we are not set up to discriminate against anyone.”  

My point is making small efforts towards being better may be more beneficial to all concerned  than stating we are going to be completely diverse, equitable & inclusive and then make decisions that would suggest that is not true.