by Stacey Joseph for ImpactEDI™ – November 11,2019
Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen studies that prove the importance of building teams that don’t look or think the same way. These findings have not fallen on deaf ears. Increasingly, companies and schools are making diversity and inclusion a priority. Recent research shows that 87% of global businesses list diversity and inclusion as an organizational priority. While 87% looks great on paper, there’s still tons of work to do. Of the 87% of these global businesses, only 37% surveyed by PwC task their leaders with specific diversity and inclusion goals, and less than 45% admit that despite listing diversity and inclusion as priorities, diversity is still a barrier to employee progression within the company. Leaders are having to pose the following questions to themselves and their organizations:
- Are we truly committed to diversity and inclusion?
- What does diversity and inclusion look like in the context of our organization, our core values, our day to day systems and processes etc.?
- Are we willing to put our “money where our mouth is”, by allocating funds for D&I initiatives?
- What does it take to build a Diversity and Inclusion program that is able to realize all of the benefits that we know come from having a diverse and inclusive organizational culture and climate.
But what about those of us who don’t hold leadership positions? How can we affect change within our organizations by showing our personal commitment to diversity and inclusion? Often times, people fervidly argue in support of creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace/organizational culture and then struggle or run out of steam when it comes to doing their part. The work around diversity and inclusion can at times feel really big, heavy, and even scary for some. I know from experience how difficult it can be to know exactly how to drive middle and bottom up movement forward, specifically when D&I isn’t part of your job description.
After grappling with this myself, I borrowed from the advice that was given to one of my favorite movie characters as he struggles to deal with a compendium of phobias: Take Baby Steps. ‘Babystepping’ D&I efforts means, before you dive right into heavy hitting changes that may take time, “you set small reasonable goals for yourself, that are attainable, one day at a time.” Based on conversations I’ve had about diversity, inclusion, and belonging, with diverse groups of individuals who self-identify as belonging to ‘out-groups’ (either socially or within their organizations), I began making a list of ways and practices that help to move the needle on diversity and inclusion. The list is a continual work in progress, and includes action items that anybody in any organization in any industry can do to contribute.
In compiling the list, I’ve noticed about 25 practices that came up time and time again. These practices, when transformed into habits, will not only empower every member of your organization, they will actually help to bring about change one “Baby Step” at a time. The full list of 25 are sorted by time commitment from things you can begin to do right now that will take under an hour, to ongoing actions and practices that you can work to put in place over a period of time. They will be shared over the next five weeks in our “Five for Five” blog series. Below is the first five immediate actions you can take to improve diversity and inclusion at your organization, and become a leading example that diversity and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. Because after all, only through collective efforts can we make a true impact.
5 Immediate Actions You can Take in <1hour That Will Impact D&I
- Put your preferred pronouns in your email signature. Self-expression and self-identification is a professional and personal value. One way to practice these values is to share personal gender pronouns. When we share our personal pronouns, we create a safe space for others to share theirs.
- Bring up D&I with your manager and your manager’s manager. You can simply ask: “What are we doing in our organization/community/team to show our commitment to diversity and inclusion?”
- Give Feedback (positive or informative) on your organizations D&I efforts, or lack thereof. i.e. “That lunch and learn on how Unconscious Bias can hinder our effectiveness was very helpful, and really made me think about some things.” or “Our campaign is targeting Baby Boomers, and we have a team of millennials working it, I’m thinking we need to change that.”
- Set aside stereotypes about “professionalism” and demonstrate that you care about someone. If you’re not quite sure how to do this, you can simply say: “I care about you and your sense of belonging here.”
- Understand, examine, and check your privilege by taking this test. Having privilege isn’t about deliberately demanding something – it’s just about the circumstances of your life that operate within a system of privilege to give you benefits/advantages over others that you never asked for. The questions included in the survey are not exhaustive, but asking oneself questions like the ones included in the survey is an important step toward revealing the areas where privilege exists in your life. It also demonstrates for the taker, the complexities of privilege and intersectionality.
We’d love to add new practices to our list. Is there something you’re doing at your organization that takes less than an hour and impacts D&I? Please leave a comment, tweet us @IEditm, or post to your Linkedin and tag us @ImpactEDI™ and use our hashtag #everyonesincluded.