Updated: Jan 21, 2021
2021 is here, and almost a week has passed. Generally, many of us have started planning out what resolutions we will work towards by now. This year and honestly, every year, you should include diversity, equity and inclusion as a resolution. DEI can often be, as we certainly hope, discussed in the workplace but it is very much a life issue. Inclusion is a lifestyle that one should focus on, much like dieting or quitting a vice. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to reflect about diversity, equity and inclusion at work and around you. Let's set some small goals.
Learn to be more authentic. Ask yourself the tough questions about your recent actions or inactions. Take a good look at yourself and then look outwards. What have you been doing to be a more anti-racist accomplice? What has your support been for the LBGTQ community? What have you learned from 2020's racial injustices and police brutality? The ability to self-evaluate will give you a better picture of the current diversity climate that's around you. At work, see what emphasis your organization is placing on DEI. Was it all talk, or are real actions being taken? Is inclusion still a priority? There are tools to measure this and your organization should always offer training. If not, speak to them about it! Asking tough questions will help you in your search to learn what is needed to shift towards a more inclusive world.
Empathize with the struggle of those around you. While learning, you'll need to make sure you stop and listen to those battling with societal stigmas that may not affect you in the same way. It would be best if you acknowledged them, see them. Combine this with your implicit knowledge and show empathy. There will also be a need to create the space needed, free of judgment, to discuss DEI. The best way to start this process is to recognize that no one is perfect. These imperfections are why terms like unconscious bias exist. We are programmed to have preferences so that we can make quick decisions. People have to unlearn much of their behavior. In addition, it is helpful to have a supportive tone when you are ready to amplify the conversations on DEI.
Normalize talks and positive actions to show empathy towards individuals who are different from you. Reduce the need for women to change their character to land their dream job. Or a foreigner to stop speaking their language in front of you to make you feel comfortable. Or a mom with small children, to never mention her children at work, in the hope of not appearing less dedicated or hard-working.
Support the fight for equality. Become an accomplice. Get involved, and now more than ever, understand that we have to protect disadvantaged groups by race, gender, sex, religion, and more. At LENS Diversity, we try to provide our clients with actionable steps, knowing that they will have to come away from their comfort zone, but the goal is to foster belonging.
Celebrate your progress as you go through each stage. The same way you may have a cheat day. It's not shameful to have to take steps back to go forward, but that's okay. You are human. The goal is to get rid of the need to always get it right and focus on the progress you are making toward a more diverse, equitable and inclusive society.