February is Black History Month. As we celebrate the trailblazing black leaders this month (as we do all months), it’s also an important time to reflect on your organization’s commitment to DEI – diversity, equity and inclusion.
DEI is more than a buzzword or strategic initiative. It’s about more than HR. It’s important to ground DEI into the DNA of your organization.
Here are a few questions around the conversation of DEI in your company >>
Why is this important?
Before you even begin, check yourself. Why is this important to your company? Why is it important to you? Are you saying it is because that’s “what you’re supposed to do” or are you ready for real, meaningful transformation? Research has shown DEI is smart business sense, leading to greater engagement and outcomes across the board. But business outcomes cannot be the only reason to advance DEI. Get to your personal “why” and do the work to educate yourself outside of the workplace. (For a list of antiracist resources, click here).
Where are we?
Often, organizations begin the DEI conversation with an ambitious look towards the future. It’s just as important to acknowledge, with truth and transparency, where you are right now. This isn’t always easy. But it is a vital step in the ongoing conversation and commitment to DEI in your company.
So how do you begin to analyze where you are? There are several tools for assessment. Also, we recommend not going it alone. If DEI is a true priority, budget for it. Invest in hiring a consultant or coach to help guide you through the process. Additionally, bringing in outside experts who can look at your organization without bias can be a key part of growth.
How are we evaluating DEI?
“We want to advance DEI” is a very broad statement. Break down your goals with data. Make those goals transparent, internally and externally, to reflect your commitment and hold yourself accountable. Many organizations, large and small, are making this a best practice.
Here are just a few examples >>
How can I advance DEI if I’m not a leader?
At CX, we truly believe leadership is a role, not a title. Step up within your organization if you see areas for opportunity. Play an active role in advocating for change within your team, department, and the organization at large. Is there no DEI-focused committee? Work to create one. Know a policy that would increase equity? Advocate for it.
Also know that it’s not your role alone to tackle DEI. . . you cannot take it all on your shoulders. Work together with others. Organize to increase resilience and make your voices heard. Align yourself with decision makers within your organization to advocate for real changes.
True DEI work is not relegated to a committee, a project, or individuals. It is an organizational value, policy, and practice. It is an investment. It is woven into the DNA of your organization in a meaningful way. And it’s behind the scenes, challenging work. But the ongoing pursuit of DEI within your organization is vital.
Central Exchange partners with organizations who value DEI. As a leadership organization, we provide many programs and conversations around DEI. We’d love you to join us at one of our many upcoming events.