“This diversity stuff seems like all fluff, but no action.”
“Ugh, not another DEI training…”
“Ok, but what do I do?”
These are consistent refrains around DEI in our organizations, and many stem from a frustration of being asked to prioritize it in their work yet feeling ill-equipped to actually make any change.
So, I’m gonna provide you some actionable ways to start pushing the needle in your organization and community today. No more excuses.
The first way is really simple. Make an explicit commitment to equity, inclusion, and justice. My friend and colleague Debbie Irwin of the Shenandoah Community Capital Fund once asked this question and it sticks with me; How do you expect people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, disabled folks to know they are truly welcome and wanted in your spaces if you don’t tell them?
Most spaces in our communities have directly been inaccessible to marginalized people for decades at minimum, and yet we believe by saying “We serve Everyone!” that folks will simply believe us? I think not. Make a direct commitment to DEI and justice, and then take actions that reflect that value.
A few other best practices are listed below.
- Begin to identify + address barriers in accessibility to your programming, which could be physical or idealistic. They likely will look different for each community, but some things will be consistent. For example, in many rural communities there is the sentiment that innovation + entrepreneurship cannot thrive or scale; how can we begin to combat that?
- Reflect on the ways that your organization is marketing to your community. Take a quick look at your marketing material or digital presence, do you feel that they reflect the diversity of your community? What steps could you take to ensure your marketing materials are more inclusive?
- Strategic partnerships and trust building should be of paramount importance as you aim to address inequities in your community. Especially in organizations like yours, the connections and mutual relationships that you can build exponentially impact our ability to achieve DEI + J goals. This can be hyper-specific to your organization or community, so feel free to connect with me for more consult here specifically.
- Begin to establish metrics and benchmarks to measure the progress of your DEI initiatives. Then, regularly assess and evaluate the impact of your practices and programs. Then, use the data to inform decision-making and hold yourself and others accountable for driving positive change. Rinse + repeat.
As I stated before, we hear reason after reason for why DEI + J practices are deprioritized in the myriad of responsibilities that we hold. We see equity work as ancillary. We see justice work as an addendum.
We will continue to struggle to create sustainable, impactful change until we see social justice as core to enterprise, not accessory.
Want to talk more? Hit me up.