How Can Organizations Assist Help DEI Initiatives?
How can organizations support DEI initiatives?
Some argue that business leaders and corporations should not leave everything to governments. For example, companies can influence economic justice through their actions and policies in the workplace. Three experts at the intersection of Leadership, Communication and Diversity, Justice and Inclusion (DEI) offer advice on how to approach the difficult but vital work of improving the DEI.
Dr. Shenna Howard, Associate Professor, Master in Business Communication (Online), Equestrian University
Economy and race are inextricably linked. BIPOCs are disproportionately poor, underpaid and devalued in the workplace. Closing the wage gap in organizations quickly and immediately is a step leadership can take to support DEI initiatives and BIPOC staff. Is there anything more powerful than income equality? We speak of income inequality, but this only exists because those responsible and leaders of organizations do not close the wage gap.
As leaders of organizations, be aware of promoting BIPOC to leadership positions, giving BIPOC employees salary increases, and offering better performance. If you have a large group of middle-class blacks and browns working in the same jobs as middle-class whites but paid less due to subconscious and conscious bias, then you are participating in the oppression of blacks and browns. In addition, if you want to employ blacks and browns and dismantle white supremacy, you need to involve BIPOC at the table in the organization’s decisions and compensate them accordingly.
Dr. Wendi Williams, Dean and Professor, School of Education, Mills College
As society faces seemingly relentless cases of racial microaggression, explicit assault, and ethnic violence, organizations and institutions are forced to act. In these spaces, their “otherness” can be used as evidence of an organization’s commitment to DEI, even if they have difficulty feeling a sense of belonging. This form of gaslighting adds an extra layer of stress to a situation that is already challenging.
When deciding what the organization will do, invite colleagues who may be directly affected or vulnerable to speak with leadership. This conversation can focus on what they need from the environment to support them during a time of heightened stress and worry. They may also be asked if and to what extent they would like to be involved in the organization’s response, with the freedom to choose differently over time.
In addition, once the critical incident that sparked public outrage has calmed down, the leadership will continue talks about how the workplace can consistently live its values by harnessing the collective commitment of the entire team to create a culture of caring and To create a sense of belonging that supports every colleague. , especially those who are particularly at risk after an act of ethnic violence.
Dr. Rebecca Gomez, LCSW, Associate Dean, Academic and Student Affairs, Associate Professor, VCU School for Social Work
Leaders need to deepen their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in their community. In social work we have a concept called “use of the self”. It is the idea that one of your most powerful tools for change is who you are and that you bring who you are with you in every exchange. Leaders play a role in ensuring that policies and practices are fair and empowering. You also have a responsibility to invest in the “use of the self”. Who you are is critical to inclusion because what you do as a leader is guided by you. Leaders need to build their self-reflective skills, approach their teams with humility, and be open to growth and learning. Likewise, it is important that we expect others on our team to both ensure fair and equitable policies and do the introspective work necessary for true diversity, justice, and inclusion.
Some specific ways leaders can do this are by participating in their own training and development, critical reflection activities, listening carefully to the people in their organization, critically examining their organizations, and taking corrective action when they recognize the need for system reform. Part of these corrective actions includes accountability and ownership. These measures require humble and vulnerable leadership and an organizational culture that is open to change and growth.
Managers who build their inner skills will be able to critically assess who has positional power, who is heard and who is not, and what drives these dynamics in their organization. We have to learn to recognize the previously unseen and to question what has been accepted so far. That’s not just how we lead. Who we are moves us from demographic diversity to true inclusion.