D&I is Dead

12 Jun

I’m going out on a limb on some important but sensitive topics in the next couple of weekly posts, and I don’t want to offend anyone in anyway.  My intent here is to share some ideas and spark reflection; not to make statements about any gender identity, race, social class, sexual orientation, age, physical attributes, political belief, national origin, religious or other group.  So, please read along with an open mind, and an appreciation for the attempt to raise such topics.

Years (OK, decades) ago, I used to commiserate with a fellow Consultant at a Big 3 strategy consulting firm about our substantial requests to attend recruiting events.  Not only were we asked to participate in the “everyone B-School” events, but also to participate in anything “women” anything “working Mom” and anything “international.”  We were in high demand given the low representation for each of these groups in our company.  My friend also happened to be in a racial minority, so she lamented that she had even more marketing commitments than me. We used to joke that it’s a good thing that we were heterosexual, or we would have another “minority” event that we were asked (actually, expected) to attend.  Those were the days of “Diversity.”  Have someone from as many “minority” groups as possible.

The original focus of these efforts was on visible minorities – “women” and “people of color.”  Which then expanded to more specific sub-groups such as “working Moms,” “Black,” “Asian” and “Hispanic.”  Also, other minority groups such as “Gay and Lesbian” and “Disabled.”  This recognition of “minorities” evolved with the surfacing our isms –   sexism, racism, agism, nationalism and the like.

As our “minority” numbers began to slowly creep up, and as we began speaking about our “isms,” some progress was made toward better recognition of “diversity” through “special interest groups.” However, it became apparent that the next challenge was not just about having diversity, but also about embracing “Inclusion.”  Merna Myers clarified it well when she stated that “diversity is about being asked to the party, but inclusion is being asked to dance.”  We began looking at our biases in thought and in action, such as the words we used, the office social activities we hosted … and the behaviors around those company functions.  So, there you had it, D&I.  Diversity & Inclusion.  That was the thinking for about a decade, and it was a great start for the times.

More recently, the terminology is shifting towards DEI.  When it first surfaced, it was defined as “Diversity, EQUALITY and Inclusion.”  Equality means dividing resources evenly – “everyone being treated the same.”  That was a good start.  Recently though, it has shifted to “Diversity, EQUITY and Inclusion.”   In a business sense, “Equity” means that the opportunities (to be promoted, for example) are the same for underrepresented groups as they are for the majority group …. and that might mean providing different kinds of support for different groups, in order to provide equal opportunities.  For example, inclusion councils, ambassadors, employee resource groups, etc.  

And that IS “fair.”  A fair way to provide equal opportunity for all.

Are you fostering DEI for all … and how?  What interesting equity initiatives have you seen?  I’m curious to hear what’s working (or not) for you and your team!

Anna Minto

Founder & CEO, Transformational Change

AMinto@trchange.com

LinkedIn.com/in/annaminto

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