with Lisa Greene, LPC, CACII
The people in my org, including myself, really want to do the work of DEI and as y’all call it, unlearning racism. The problem is, we’re already so overloaded and understaffed that no one is quite sure where to find the time for it.
I KNOW this is vital and could even improve the work that we do, and the community we serve… but how do we get our sh*t together (pardon the curse) and get some real traction beyond optics and talking in circles about wanting to do more??
🎙️ Prefer audio? Hear Lisa read her response:
Dear Motivation-Rich, Time Poor,
First, kudos to your organization for wanting to move forward with your diversity, equity and inclusion initiative! Companies who put in the work reap the benefits by having a team that is fully invested in their work, and a culture that supports everyone in living out their highest potential.
I know a lot of organizations are facing the same dilemma of having the motivation and not the bandwidth. Yet when companies can make the time and opportunities to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment, this is not only good for business, it’s the right thing to do.
But it can feel like an impossibly large task if there is no clear strategy in place. Organizations that are motivated but need more capacity may benefit from outsourcing this expertise to agencies that specialize in DEI. That said, there are strategic tasks that can be implemented right away to make progress in-house.
Let’s identify some steps to start this critical (and exciting) process!
Take 1 hour with those who are already ‘onboard’ to identify ways to prioritize DEI work. This step should identify if there are other barriers (bias, resistance, etc.) outside of time.
If your organization determines that they are ready to move forward, then identify the key players who could engage in working groups. These are groups of individuals within the organization who gather around shared identities, experiences, and interests.
Working groups would be ideal for organizations to start strategizing on how DEI can be embedded and carried out within their mission. Allow these working groups to focus on the following areas and strategize change that could occur.
Consider an anonymous DEI survey that gauges employees’ sense of belonging, psychological safety, and connectedness to the mission. If you need a recommendation for a survey, you can write to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Survey Inquiry.”
This step is vital, since your working groups will be most effective when they have goals based on accurate data that benefit both their members and the organization as a whole.
Implement the following guideposts within your working groups, and when you get your survey results, let those influence your strategy.
In every meeting, work to ensure that communication is not “top-down” (favoring those already in positions of power within the organization) and that a diversity of perspectives are represented. Encourage communication around working styles from the very beginning, to best support one another. One tool that can help with learning & sharing personal working styles is the Enneagram of Bias™️.
- Accessibility: Work to ensure that meetings are easily accessible in location (physical or virtual) and accessible to all processing types. This includes:
- Making sure meetings are live-captioned (we recommend Rev for this)
- Scheduling them at times that are as comfortable as possible for those involved
- Leaving space for people to engage in movement during the meeting as they need
- And offering multiple ways of input and appreciating them equally (speaking, chat, follow-up afterward) so that those who excel in different types of participation can do so.
- Internal Workings: Have the working group identify ways that your team feels you are creating an environment that is inclusive to all, and areas for improvement. If needed, bring in the help of a DEI expert to help create a strategy for the implementation; otherwise, ensure at least one or two people are designated to lead this internally.
- Policies and Procedures: Utilize your access to HR to ensure that job descriptions are not biased, and in particular that the candidate recruitment process includes direct reach-out to individuals with reduced access through traditional methods of application. Ensure pay grades are equitable and inclusive with a thorough evaluation. Again, you may need external support to make these and further steps happen — or if that’s outside of your budget, simply a regular meeting time to move these items forward.
Don’t let diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility be just buzzwords in your organization. You know how important this work is to you, your organization, and our larger society. If you break it down into smaller steps, the process will become more approachable. Just as with any other long-term practice, this is an investment that will pay off in a multitude of ways over time.
And, you’re not alone in this endeavor; organizations across the globe are embracing DEI and finding that they need more support. If you need a space to share, you can always join our free monthly Leadership Roundtable.
It’s incredible what you can accomplish when you release the burden of taking this on alone, and gather regularly in groups with like-minded advocates.
Trust me: you can do it!
If you need support in this, please don’t hesitate to contact me: LisaG@LTHJGlobal.com.