Diversity, equity and inclusion aren’t just strategic initiatives or part of your focus – they are and should be a byproduct of your culture…
We get asked a lot… “can you guys help us with DE&I?”
At least once a week or more we get to field questions or requests to speak on, talk about, or train on DE&I?
What we tell people is that the only way we do this is through the lens of actual culture. We don’t look at DE&I as a line item, or something we “do” – because DE&I isn’t a product, it’s a byproduct.
Building a culture that supports, promotes, and grows DE&I starts with addressing the foundation of what it’s built on.
We build our foundation for culture from a perspective that’s generally aligned from the hierarchy of needs.
- Do people have what they need to survive? – Food, water, shelter, dignity?
- Do people have the basic components of what they need to survive and thrive? We employ human beings, and as such we must always keep in mind that our job as leaders and employers is to care for the human being that is doing a job for us.
- Do they feel safe in the space they’re in?
- Human beings need to feel accepted and embraced by a community. Making your people feel like they belong is crucial to building a foundation of inclusion. Moreover, they also should feel wanted in the space they’re in. A large part of this starts with relationships built on trust, knowing each other, and an appreciation for one another’s experiences.
- Do they have self-esteem, and do they feel confident in their place? How do they feel about their place in the world?
- Better human beings make better cultures and organizations. A large part of building an effective foundation for good culture is to focus on building the self-esteem and confidence of your people – not only from a professional or technical skills perspective, but also from a human perspective. When people feel good about themselves, and the place they are in, they feel and perform better. Seek out ways to affirm and celebrate the inherent value of every member of your organization. We often say that while every employee may not be able to make the same amount of revenue or make the same level or purchasing decision – every single person can make a mistake or a decision that would cost your organization exponentially. Therefore, we have to understand and treat people with the same value. That’s not to say everyone has the same benefits, income, responsibilities, or privileges, but everyone has the same value.
If you are a white male, above a certain age – it might not sound like DE&I is for you, it might sound like its for everyone but you. But its important to have people passionate and engaged in doing what’s necessary to carry this endeavor into the future. To do that, we need EVERYONE represented in working on DE&I.
The tricky thing is that not everyone has or is having the same experience. Not everyone is coming from the same perspective.
In order to promote a culture that creates DE&I, we have to be thoughtful about how we address people and care for people who are being disproportionately affected by barriers, racial inequality, living conditions, places they live, policies, practices, etc.
We have to follow the disparity in order to find solutions.
When you do that, what you learn is that we’re dealing with challenges that have run parallel to the entire history of this country. It’s never been “right”, “fair”, “inclusive”, or “equitable”. So, it’s understandable that most of us don’t want to go back to “normal”.
Most of us don’t want to go back to the way things were, or the “good old days”, because the good old days were good for most of us.
Where we CAN go is forward, where we can all go, together – is better. Better is best.
By letting people know that you are working and trying to move towards “better”, you will get their understanding, their grace, and most importantly, their participation.
Because we believe that better is best. A culture that embraces the humanity, self-esteem and confidence of it’s people, and works on following the gaps in order to create better opportunities and seek progress is one that will create an environment where DE&I are inherent byproducts.
If you want to know more specifics, about how we help companies and organizations build cultures like this, get in touch with us, we would love to chat.