Take inventory. You want to create more equitable opportunities but you don’t have a vision for how to do it. That’s because your employee teams are minimizing differences instead of benefiting from diversity. You know this, though. That’s why you’re searching for answers in these articles. Fortunately, a lot of work has already been done to help you. Research studies, data gathering, recommendations and model projects that have proven their impact – these already exist and are ready to be put into action. What you need to do is:
1. Make equity a strategic priority – and keep it at the top of the list until Central Iowa and the nation have eradicated oppression in all its forms.
2. Quit fighting. Every one of your employees is seeing and experiencing something different. Trauma takes many forms and has many layers. Many people are confused. Many don’t know what to say, what to ask, who to ask or how to express their discomfort. Many feel they’re walking on eggshells. This kind of uncertainty will impact people in different ways, depending on their mindset and previous experience with diversity. Understand this complexity and don’t let it stop you from moving this work forward.
3. Make use of the discomfort. To get through this current crisis and emerge better than we were, the pain needs to get spread around. People of color and African Americans in particular have carried the burden of discomfort for too long. When we spread it around, the burden doesn’t get passed on to some other group. Instead, it disperses. With many people sharing the load, the work becomes lighter, and we WILL get this work done.
4. Take inventory. Not of your product, but of your mindsets. Does every employee believe they benefit from diversity, or do they feel it creates conflict and inefficiency? You may be feeling like your teams have been using buzzwords like implicit bias, inclusion and equity, without really understanding what they mean. You may recognize now that implicit bias within our institutions is what has been holding our nation back. Develop employees’ mindsets to be more adaptive toward differences and you will transform society into a thriving community that works for all of us.
5. Mark your progress. You’ve been investing in diversity training and inclusion efforts for years, but you can’t see the benefits from it. Now you can. It’s easy, using the Intercultural Development Inventory. Use this tool to get a baseline measure of your organization’s capacity to benefit from diversity.
Your organization and every individual you work with are part of the solution to eradicate racism and other forms of oppression. It IS your business. All of us have our own work to do, from the inside out. Let’s work together to examine the data, acknowledge who’s not able to live their best life and have the courage to act in order to minimize the gap.