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Navigating & Thriving In a Season of Anti-DEI Backlash, Part II

In this week’s case anti-dei backlash, we saw the clock roll back on DEI initiatives, the US House Office of Diversity and Inclusion announced that it would be dissolved as part of the recently passed government spending bill. It’s the latest in a series of other major institutions– including state colleges in Texasmajor tech corporations, and more – taking a step back from previously robust DEI initiatives and teams. 

It's crucial not to allow the politicization of DEI to cloud judgment about the field's intended purpose. The importance of DEI extends beyond its positive impacts on business strategy. A safe, supportive, and welcoming working environment is a fundamental right for every worker, especially for those who have historically and systemically faced harm in oppressive workspaces.

While many executives believe DEI is critical to a business's success, it's equally important to recognize and advance DEI for its human impact on employees, companies and communities.

Group of diverse women smile and laugh at work

Last week, we provided strategic guidance on how to survive the current anti-DEI climate and return this week with renewed insights on the intrinsic value of DEI. Whether you are a DEI practitioner, executive, or simply care about these values showing up in your place of work, consider the following guidance on shifting your understanding of DEI to one that values and protects the practice beyond the current political and social climate:

DEI is Valuable on Both Business and Human Levels

Successful DEI initiatives have been shown to improve a business’s productivity and innovation, retention rates, employee satisfaction, and productivity. While those tangible impacts are crucial, recognize that it is also a tenet of White supremacy culture to have a need to quantify success and impact. 

Group of diverse people smile in front of a desk at work

Quantity over quality may be how we have all been conditioned to judge growth and set goals, but taking a more humanistic, person-centered and equitable approach can teach us that there is success in DEI beyond metrics. The worth beyond hard data, analytics and metrics is what makes DEI worth the fight. It is just as meaningful for Black and Brown employees to feel satisfied and safe in their roles at their place of work as it is for data to tell the story of DEI’s success. 

Quiet Fearful Thoughts and Other Limiting Beliefs

It is easy to look at the news cycle and how other companies are reacting to the current climate and wonder if your company should also scale back or abandon its DEI efforts. Resisting the urge to give in, though, allows your company to remain true to its values and ensure that DEI is embedded in organization-wide goals. 

When we believe in DEI not just for its optics, it allows us to champion this work with a renewed spirit. So when budgets are being slashed, we are slow to look to DEI to be the first to go and will find ways to embolden support for it. 

Recognize Backlash for What It Is: Anti-Blackness

Let's call a spade a spade: much of this moment is rooted in anti-Blackness and a desire to maintain existing power structures. Recognizing this allows us—and especially those working in the field—to avoid internalizing negative messages suggesting that cuts in DEI are related to our inherent worth.

Staying in a field that many are determined to see crumble can feel disempowering, but by employing these strategies, you can thrive. Schedule a consultation with ShiftED Consulting today for support on your company’s DEI journey. 

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