5 ways to design and drive your DEI strategy

MESH/​diversity recently connected with a group at ICTAM for #EqualityEquationWpg to discuss the challenges organizations face when building solid DEI efforts. Here are 5 takeaways from the session that can help get your organization engaged and drive strategy.

1. Good and lasting DEI work begins as a communication challenge.
How can we engage people in a way that they can:
(a) hear: don’t hijack them
(b) understand: don’t overwhelm them
© integrate: it must make sense for their day to day
(d) engage: see as a get to”

2. To do good and lasting DEI work, we must move beyond simplistic notions that knowledge and understanding are the keys that will move the dial. A firm understanding of social power is the lynchpin to sustainable DEI change.

3. A large part of the reason we have not made real strides in DEI for the last 30 years is that we have been relying on the same old strategies with little results.

The vast majority of DEI efforts we consider best practices are actually quite hit and miss. Neither science nor results back their efficacy and so we shouldn’t be surprised that they don’t drive the change we seek. If leadership claims DEI is the organizational imperative, then resources and expertise need to be applied towards its success. Anything less is lip service.

4. The overt, obvious manifestations of sexism, racism, heterosexism, etc. are not the real challenges that face us as we look to drive real DEI change.

The real challenges lie in how we see, understand, address and prevent the more subtle forms of micro-aggressions that are so deeply entwined and normalized in our everyday work experiences.

Only in this pointed effort can we address the business of creating cultures where all personnel can feel safe, a sense of belonging, inclusion and be truly engaged.

5. Hierarchies of social oppression are fundamentally self-defeating as a route to large scale change. Pain is pain, so prioritizing one group (e.g. Women) over another (e.g. people of colour) is problematic at best, dangerous at worst.

Much like the women’s rights movement, which was a white, middle class movement, we don’t want to make the same mistakes again.

Work at building healthy cultures where all personnel have the ability to thrive, and we will drive the equitable workplaces we want.