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Does DEI Break Barriers or Build Walls?

I was asked my opinion at a client meeting last week!

There are certain topics that I don’t touch when meeting with clients.

Especially, the ones who ask your opinion but REALLY don’t listen.

The client said this “DEI is overrated. Instead of breaking barriers, it build walls.”

I couldn’t resist! Let me explain to you what I explained to him!


 

Although, I understand your argument that an individual should be hired based on their qualifications and experience, what happens if you are qualified but disqualified due to your skin color? This is not a boogeyman. This is REAL. I cannot tell you how many times I had to ‘whiten’ my resume to prove that damn point. The people who dismiss DEI speak from a place of extreme privilege! How can they understand something that has NEVER happened to them? In recent years, companies around the world are striving to diversify their workforce by welcoming individuals from different backgrounds but for all the wrong reasons. While this “trend” is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, we must acknowledge that inclusive hiring can inadvertently cause harm if not executed with due care and it has. Pay attention to this part!

It is NOT enough to merely bring diverse individuals into a space, we MUST also work to shift the culture within that space FIRST to truly foster inclusivity.

 

The Weight of “The First” and “The Only”

When an organization implements inclusive hiring practices, they will bring in individuals who become “the first” or “the only” representatives of their diverse background within that space. A heavy burden to bear!


The pressure to succeed and break stereotypes can be

overwhelming, leading to additional stress and anxiety. Inclusive hiring MUST be accompanied by a supportive culture that embraces these individuals.


 

The Cultural Shift Conundrum Inclusive hiring should not be viewed as a one-time achievement but as the beginning of a journey toward true inclusivity. Merely diversifying the workforce without addressing the underlying culture within the space is a ticking timebomb. It will eventually go off! If the culture remains unchanged, it can perpetuate a hostile environment for diverse employees.


 

↘ Walking the Tightrope of Inclusive Hiring Creating a truly inclusive workplace requires a holistic approach. It’s not just about ticking boxes on a diversity checklist; it’s about creating an environment where EVERYONE feels respected and supported.


 

↘ Strategies to consider - Education and Awareness Implement comprehensive DEI training programs to educate ALL employees about the importance of inclusivity.

Leadership “buy-in” Leaders MUST set an example by championing diversity, actively seeking diverse perspectives and holding themselves accountable.

Transparent Policies and Practices Revamp company policies to ensure they are equitable for ALL.


 


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