Has your organization addressed Diversity, Engagement and Inclusion (DEI) in the current news cycle?
We can all agree that diversity and race have been front and center of the news cycle during the first six months of 2020. We began with the Covid_19 pandemic where African-Americans and people over 50 have been infected at disproportionate rates in the United States, creating a disparate impact.
Then, in the midst of the pandemic, we are faced with multiple situations whereby African Americans have been killed for reasons that that appear to be predicated by race. I am being politically correct when I say “appear”.The facts are that many of these cases are still be tried and/or have not resulted in any arrests or charges. However, with that said, the victims have a commonality and that is their race … in this case being African American, black or of African descent (call it what you will). Race is the common demographic. At this point, I could certainly launch in to a history lesson about systemic racism and discrimination, but that is not my goal today.
Let me preface this by stating that in the context of this blog post, I am speaking about current events. My life work has been working in the DEI field focused on all aspects of diversity and inclusion, so no debate is necessary about other demographics or All Lives Matter. Unfortunately the truth of the matter today is that there is a crisis in the United States regarding how people of color are viewed. This crisis in my opinion is based on unconscious biases and implicit biases.
I have been getting calls and emails from organizations that want to hire a consultant to help them develop and frame their organizational DEI Strategy. I say kudos to this. Some may think this is reactionary on the part of companies and organizations, but in my opinion it’s a smart move that is better taken now than never. Regardless of what some factions may think or want the country to be, we are a diverse nation, made up of immigrants from all over the world. What many do not realize is that the younger the population breakdown, the more diverse we are as a nation (table 1). Let that sink in and add the fact that as a nation we are so diverse that by 2045 the United States is expected to be a “minority white” country (Figure 1).
I will let these statistics marinate and hope that you mull that over and what it means to your business, the talent pipeline and why DEI needs to move up on your priority list.
However, let me get back to the original question:
“Has your organization addressed Diversity, Engagement and Inclusion (DEI) in the current news cycle?”
Regardless of how you respond to the question, this is a short list of what you can and should do to move forward:
1. Communicate with your employees.
Draft a heartfelt communication statement that acknowledges the issues and commits to supporting positive change. If you don’t know what to write, ask for help. Do not do this in a vacuum.
2. Listen to your employees.
Sometimes, the best thing we can do is listen with an open mind and let people express themselves in an authentic way. Listening doesn’t require you to state your opinion. These are traumatic and emotional times. Many are frustrated and emotional. Providing a forum for discussion will go a long way towards building trust and understanding.
3. Educate your leaders and all employees on what it means to foster a culture that values everyone.
Develop common language and understanding around implicit bias, unconscious biases and how to individually and collectively overcome them.
4. Take a hard look at your organization policies and practices.
This means taking a step back and looking at the culture, policies and procedures through a DEI lens. For example: who gets promoted, who is leaving the organization, and does everyone have access and feel included and able to do their best work?
5. Commit to supporting organizations that are focused on various aspects of DEI.
Whether it is a community based organization, a professional diversity focused organization or a non-profit focused social or environmental issues. Identify and commit to supporting and encouraging your employees to participate.
6. Develop a DEI Strategy based upon where your organization is in the DEI continuum.
Look around your organization and determine which elements of a strategy are critical to the long term health of your company. Ask questions like: Does my leadership team all look the same? Do we hire disproportionately from certain colleges and universities? Are women hitting a glass ceiling or expressing concerns about gender discrimination? Are people of color leaving the organization at disproportionate rates?
7. If you do not have the internal expertise to address this in an authentic manner, hire an expert.
Sherry D. Snipes, the Founder and Managing Director of Global Diversity Collaborative, a niche DEI Consulting firm focused on DEI strategic planning, collaboration, education and awareness. She has lead DEI programming at large corporations and nonprofits and has spent her career working with organizations to shift their DEI paradigm from exclusive to inclusive.
Learn about Global Diversity Collaborative
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Contact: 703.230.0111 / firstname.lastname@example.org