The want for organizations, both by leadership and their workforce, to support and improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has been growing exponentially. However, the journey to improving DEI is more like a marathon than a sprint and many employees would probably say that they have not seen any drastic changes.
The journey towards improved diversity and inclusion in any organization will require the support of Leaders, the Workforce, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champions. A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion (DEI Champion) is a person within your company that actively supports DEI in the workplace. Quite simply a DEI Champion turns talk into action.
Being a DEI Champion puts you at the forefront of setting expectations and modeling what a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization should look like. Individuals that choose to lead as DEI Champions don’t just talk about improving diversity, equity, and inclusion, they are making it happen every day through their personal and professional actions in the workplace.
Here are some ways to support your journey to becoming a DEI Champion in your community and workplace.
Educate Yourself – We can always learn something new, so take the time to learn more about individuals that are different than you. This education goes beyond race or gender. Consider learning about different cultures, religions, individuals with visible or invisible disabilities, or the LGBTQ+ community. With greater understanding comes greater empathy, which will make work and our communities better.
Uncover Your Blind Spots – Take the time to identify the stereotypes and biases you hold that may impact you at work. Consider taking the Implicit Bias Test to have a better understanding of how you view others and the biases that you may have not considered before. Identification is first step in your journey to changing your thinking and removing those biases.
Language is Important – How we communicate is very important to healthy working relationships and environments. Therefore, it is important to be aware of language you use as some words, questions or responses could be demeaning, hurtful, or insulting to others. It is also important to remember that we all make mistakes and can say or do something unintendedly, but if someone brings that hurtful language or action to your attention acknowledge your part, apologize, and change your behavior moving forward.
This is not the time to get defensive, it is the time to learn.
Join In – Be an active member in the DEI conversation in your organization. Join an employee resource group, attend DEI focused events, or organize an event for your team or organizations that supports learning about and celebrating DEI.
Be a Mentor – No matter your role in an organization you have something to offer as a mentor and better yet, you have something that you can learn yourself. Take the opportunity to mentor an individual that is different from you, whether that is by gender, age, socio-economic, cognitive, race, or any of the other areas that make us diverse. This relationship will provide a great opportunity for two way learning not only for one’s career but also personally by gaining a better understanding of differing opinions, situations, and life experiences.
Joy Papini, PhD, is the President of CIDIS LLC, a Management Consulting firm located in Reston, VA. For more information please visit www.CIDISConsulting.com.