Keep At It: Pushing Through The Struggles Of DE&I Work

 Keep At It: Pushing Through The Struggles Of DE&I Work

By Michelle Bogan

Every person I know who is involved in diversity, inclusion, and equity work is exhausted. Down to their bones tired. And so worried that they’re not doing enough.

DE&I is hard work. If it’s not hard right now, that is probably an indication you’re not digging deep enough, because we’re getting to core systemic issues that have been in place for generations. Even in new (or new-ish) companies, those systemic issues enter the workplace with each of us whether we like it or not, whether the workplace is virtual or in-person. They’re just too much a part of every other system in our lives for that not to happen.

This is an amazing opportunity for companies to demonstrate how they will show up for all of their stakeholders on issues – employees, board members, stockholders, and the public at large. Not just talk, but take action internally, with customers, and in the community.

Is this the catalyst that makes you dig in and re-evaluate your hiring and promotion processes? Or jointly participate in an industry task force with clients? Or engage in nonprofit work that directly impacts your community? What else can you do?

This work is not easy, and is not for those who demand quick results. Checking the box will get you nowhere. It is critical, strategic work vital to the future of every organization. Sticking your head in the sand guarantees your demise.

With the shift to working from home, and the windows into our personal lives that have come with it, it is impossible to draw a line between social justice matters and the workplace. We cannot pretend we’re not all interconnected anymore.

Social media has created a multitude of venues that show the extent to which the community at large expects companies and their leaders to take a stand. It’s not just Gen Z or Millennials – this is a cross-generational expectation. It probably always was – we just didn’t have the same means to hear it.

Done right, DE&I work moves an organization as a collective along a change curve. We’re all on our own place on the curve, and need to move others with us, making it at least twice as hard. Add to this the fact that this change is highly emotional, just like all the new challenges brought to the forefront by COVID-19.

Across your leadership team, there is a good chance everyone is not aligned on exactly when, where, and how to engage in social justice matters. It is vital that you gauge the extent of the spectrum, raise awareness of assumptions and roadblocks, and start to bring people along. That is where change management work can deliver exceptional results.

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Originally posted on Forbes


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