3 Things to Add to Your DEI New Year’s Resolution
It’s a new school year and many companies and institutions have committed themselves to strengthening their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts in-house and within their communities. Many of the people making the effort have great intentions, but sometimes miss the mark. Missing the mark can sometimes lead to lack of employee retention, employee fatigue, and/or harmful incidents that reflect poorly on the organization.
So, how do you make the mark (and how do you make your mark)? You do this through intentionality. To create change, you must be in intentional action and intentional practice.
When it comes to DEI, there are plenty of ways to accomplish real change within your organization and it starts with you. If you’re looking for ways to act, here are three you can commit to in 2023.
Commit to (Un)learning
Unlearning is defined as discarding something learned, especially a bad habit or false or outdated information, from one’s memory. It’s easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. Unlearning—like allyship—takes practice.
We’ve all unlearned something. Most of us have put something in our lives into practice, and guess what? It worked! For example, just several years ago, we normalized offensive terms for differently abled individuals and queer folks. Now fast forward to present day. How often do you hear these terms today? Not a lot, if ever. That’s because we learned that these terms were offensive (and outdated), and we put into practice not using them anymore. So, if you can do this in your everyday life, why not do it when it comes to making positive and inclusive change in your organizations and in your communities?
Support Diverse Groups Within and Outside Your Organization
There is power in community and connection. Did you know companies with an inclusive culture who hire staff members with differing backgrounds see a significant increase in profit? Companies with highly diverse teams are averaging 2.5 times higher cash flow per employee. And it’s not just about the money. Organizations and companies that foster inclusivity see higher employee morale and retention rates. Promoting diversity and supporting all voices within your organization makes a difference. According to the Ford Foundation for Social Impact, women, Black, and Latinx employees are 3.5 more likely to leave the workplace than their white and Asian counterparts, especially if a person feels like an “other.” A sense of connection within an organization, helps employees feel like they belong at the institution. And this can easily be accomplished by executives, senior leadership, and group leaders by supporting and collaborating with different groups within and outside your organization.
When’s the last time you attended an event, presentation or program hosted by your BIPOC-led, women-led or LGBTQ-led Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)? When’s the last time your organization volunteered in local diverse communities? These may seem like small gestures, but the impact is tremendous. Your participation can help ensure all members of your organization feel valued and engaged equally.
Be Willing to be Uncomfortable
While I was watching a docuseries, there was an inspiring young woman who told her family and friends that she was committed to being uncomfortable because it opened the space for her growth and the understanding of different cultures. However, this process isn’t limited to young people. This is a step people of all ages should be willing to do. Being uncomfortable is a part of how change happens. A little discomfort goes a long way in terms of personal and professional development. According to Forbes, it’s a big part of improving your performance, creativity, and learning in the long run.
Imagine if at least half of your organization committed themselves to being uncomfortable to open themselves up for growth. You and your colleagues would be helping to cultivate community and contribute to inclusive change.