The fall is a time for new beginnings– going back to school, setting new goals, and for many adults, changing jobs or careers. While the ‘September Surge,’ an annual time that’s typically best for hiring or starting a new role, is almost over, there’s still an opportunity for companies and organizations to also begin anew and strengthen their DEI strategies.
Many places of work are still clinging to the narrative that the murder of George Floyd and the summer of 2020 was a ‘reckoning’ on race and anti-Blackness in America. In reality, many corporations and entities used it as a branding exercise to keep public sentiment and financial interests intact without doing the actual work required to advance equity and justice. We’ve become obsessed with DEI not as a path to tangibly shift the experiences of Black and Brown people in America, but as a method of virtue signaling. DEI has somehow become a space that revolves around the interests of cisgender, White, heterosexual people; their leadership, interests, and comfort have been prioritized. Elite spaces have been penetrated with a series of summits, forums, and conferences all in the name of DEI and culture change; but this fall, I ask us to stop and truly ask ourselves what has actually changed?
Reassessing Who Gets to be the Face of Leadership
The murder of George Floyd could have been a true moment to pause, reflect, and transform the culture of working in the U.S. as we know it. Instead, it became a time to elevate White folks to positions of power. A survey from Zippia reveals that more than 75% of Chief Diversity Officers are White; just 3.8% are Black and 7.7% and 7.8% are Asian or Latinx, respectively. While a commitment to DEI should be spread across an entire organization, taking the time to reassess who gets to hold top positions of power is crucial for growth.
Restoring Authenticity in DEI
No corner of the earth has been untouched by the harms of capitalism, colonization, and racism– and that includes the field of DEI. While many practitioners and leaders of mission-driven organizations may use the same language, not all are motivated by the same core values or vision of what a just and equitable world may actually look like. And not to mention, there is money to be made in the field. That motivating factor has the potential to sour initiatives that could truly spark change in the immediate and long-term.
Restoring authenticity in DEI means returning to a space that values impact over impressions and transformation over profit. When reevaluating your DEI strategy this fall, think through what metrics you are using to measure impact, and how those may or may not be aligning to tangibly shift the experiences of your employees.
Reflecting and Receiving Feedback
What systems are in place for your organization or company to receive radical feedback from your employees on how your DEI values are or are not being lived out? Taking that a step further, have you cultivated a culture that allows Black and Brown employees to feel safe expressing feedback without fear of retaliation?
It’s common practice for Black and Brown voices to be silenced or ignored in the workplace. Taking a moment to pause and hear from those with lived experiences will provide you with the insight necessary to make change.
As the seasons change, so can your vision and strategy for a more just and equitable workplace. And if you need help getting started, consider sponsoring a space for a woman of color on your team to join the Authentically Me Fellowship or schedule a consulting call with ShiftED Consulting