1 Guaranteed Way to Make Equity, Inclusion & Diversity a Reality
The perfect storm has been created by the most unfortunate circumstances to get the world to a point where it is undeniable that Black Lives Matter and equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are not opt-ins, but mandatory conditions in work and in life. Period.
Individuals, organizations and governments are demonstrating acknowledgement, hope and courage when they commit, through statements and initial steps, to equity, diversity and inclusion.
The one step commonly missed in trying to bring about EDI however is,accountability.
Accountability is a provocative word. It means being responsible and transparent, feeling uncomfortable as you adapt to change and following-through. It means sharing what you intend to do with people who will bear witness, taking action and investing resources within a period of time, sharing steps you’ve taken as well as the results and finally, reflecting on what was learned to inform your next action.
As I reflect on how we try to achieve equitable, diverse and inclusive world, I can’t help but notice the similar experience both individuals and organizations face when it comes to being accountable. Think about it for a second; on a personal level many of us struggle with accountability. The classic example is the New Year’s Resolution. How many times have you acknowledged a problem, had the courage and hope to name what you want to change and commit to it and then…it falls apart? An initial plan is put in place but maybe the timeline changes, you take some steps and not others and eventually the follow-through just doesn’t happen. By the end of the year, you’ve likely found you haven’t been able to be accountable to yourself to make your dream come true. This experience is not unlike the one organizations face. A crucial difference is that when organizations fail to achieve the EDI dream or compromise it, it exhausts or eliminates the patience of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) staff and other stakeholders who have dealt with systemic racism all their lives. A lack of accountability only creates more toxicity.
So, what’s the solution? If you’ve followed me over the years you know what I’m going to say next; If you want to make a positive change in the world, instead of finding the quick solution, you need to get clear on your long-term vision, specifically name how you’re going to make it a reality, book time to take these actions and then act. If you’re on my e-mail list, you also know that as we begin a new year, I prompt you to review your achievements, what you’ve learned and then use this information to inform how you move forward. Accountability is required in order to make a change and a difference. The solution is to be accountable.
Whether you have a role in an organization to make equity, diversity and inclusion a reality or you’re an individual – a staff member, a stay-at-home parent, an artist, a mechanic etc. – it’s time to accept and embrace accountability to build an equitable world.
What Accountability Can Look Like for Organizations
As an organization this means building an EDI roadmap with the support of BIPOC experts and allies and the input of your staff. It means committing to actively listening to staff and the communities your organization serves (see this post to learn more on how to dothis). It means committing to a timeline to make significant changes to recruitment practices, workers’ benefits, performance metrics and policies. And it means demonstrating how seriously your organization takes EDI by building budgets that meet the needs, ensuring a Chief EDI Officer is part of the executive-level management and avoiding token-posts at this and the managerial level.
What Accountability Can Look Like for Individuals
As an individual this means getting clear on what an equitable, diverse and inclusive world looks like, what actions you can take to make this happen and when you will make it happen. Remember, it’s ok to take small steps. Maybe the first step is watching this 6-minute video that breaks down systemic racism clearly, honestly and succinctly right after you read this post. If you follow this suggestion then for you, an EDI world looks like one which involves actively learning. The action you can take is watching an informative video and your timeline to get this done could be within minutes of reading this post! All you need to do fulfill all accountability requirements is to tell someone you’re doing this and then follow-up and share what you’ve learned after! A helpful note: When watching this video, be prepared to feel uncomfortable. When you feel reactive and notice you’ve stopped listening, take a moment to re-group. Breath in and out. Then, continue. Apply the active listening steps outlined at the end of this post, to help you get the most out of this video.
How You Can Exercise Accountability Right Now!
Here’s an exercise to support you in taking action to be accountable whether you’re an organization or individual:
1. Write down the dream you want to make a reality as it relates to equity, diversity and inclusion.
2. Write down at least 1 action you can take to make this happen.
3. Schedule a date in your calendar within the next 30 days to make it happen.
4. Share your dream, action and date with at least 1 person or your team.
5. Take the action.
6. Share what happens after you take the action with the person or team. Talk with them about what the steps can look like. Then repeat steps 1-6.
I want to be clear about something, building an equitable, diverse and inclusive world isn’t simple. We are still at the beginning of undoing systemic racism and de-colonialization. This process will change your reality. Understandably, it will be unnerving and uncomfortable. It’s also necessary as we head into the unknown and wonderful possibilities for a better shared existence. The steps I’ve outlined will help us collectively be clearer and grounded as we move forward. They will motivate us to keep going, one measured, transparent step at a time.
If you would like support on how to self-advocate effectively, build better boundaries, feel empowered and resilient or if you want to want to learn how to lead inclusively, promote diversity and establish equity sign-up to my e-maillist to get more tips and/or sign-up for my free needs assessment and let’s discuss what coaching with me can look like.
If you would like to learn more about coaching and training services for your team to support equitable, inclusive, diverse, healthy workplace culture please book an information session or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your specific inquiry.