In my most recent blog post, My D&I Journey, I shared my experience of a presentation I gave on Diversity and Inclusion. This post is the first of a few that dig into the core themes I shared with everyone that day. In my experience, where organizations struggle to get any movement with Diversity and Inclusion, starts with a lack of definition on what Diversity and Inclusion mean for and to them.
There tends to be a lot of time and effort put into these definitions and statements. When working to craft these statements, I have seen the following occur:
Spending too much time to come to a consensus on the words to get them perfect.
The definitions are overly complicated that no one can remember them so that they can be implemented and effective.
By the time they get to anything worth sharing, it’s already out of touch with the conversations needing to be had today.
When you think about these why organizations struggle, it’s understandable why it occurs. The reality is we need to not let this be what stops us from moving forward. So why don’t organizations focus on what is essential and leave the rest out for now? I suggest developing key definitions that at its core that resonates with most people, can easily be remembered, and has meaning. Here is one example to this approach:
Diversity = Respecting individual differences
Inclusion = Experiencing a sense of belonging and feeling valued
Equality = Creating equal access to opportunity
I realize that this might not work for every organization, and that is okay. This example provides an idea of how we can focus on creating a framework within an organization to focus on Diversity and Inclusion while eliminating some of the roadblocks that impact D&I efforts.
Once you have these definiation to work with, we must put those words into action. Putting words on paper is not enough for D&I initiatives to be successful. Verna Myers, a Diversity and Inclusion Expert, has stated: “Diversity is Being Invited to the Party; Inclusion is being asked to Dance.” As we thinking about putting D&I into action, another viewpoint we have to be mindful of is who is planning that party. We must consider what bias, both known and unknown, are they bringing that influences the decisions being made? For example, one of the items that many organizations currently struggle with is what to provide as “gender selection” options in their demographic collection. Using the definition examples above and considering the situation, wouldn’t it be ideal to have that voice from someone who can provide a perspective from themselves rather than making assumptions based on what we’ve heard from others. Those with those direct experiences can help us to create environments and experiences for others that we cannot ourselves understand.
This is one of many examples of how we can make changes in our D&I culture and initiatives by having clear, concise definitions and put it into practice. I want to close this post with a video I saw in a recent Vistage Meeting. Deloitte created this video, and I believe it succinctly shows the various perspectives of how D&I impacts the lives and is important for organizations.