In May of 2020, the well-known best practices of Diversity and Inclusion became obsolete. Why? Because the people who wrote them knew all along that those efforts could bring only incremental improvement. Before May, employers weren’t willing to put time or money into things that were truly best practices. But with a massive civil uprising and a pandemic, employers have started to pay attention to the fact that D&I isn’t working.
The new best practices are just now being written. They will require time to be tested and solidified. However, best practices on systemic transformation are well known and can be adapted for use in D&I. To apply the best practices of systemic transformation to corporate diversity, employers must go against a few ingrained habits.
- Instead of writing policies to control behavior, companies are going to have to shift employee behavior and then document that shift with new policies. Employees follow the unwritten rules to guide their daily behavior, not the policies.
- Instead of delegating the process of learning to a Diversity Officer or HR, leaders in line functions are going to have to do their own homework to learn about anti-racism, everyday dehumanization, and how to celebrate cultures without falling into cultural appropriation.
- Instead of copying what other companies did, each company is going to have to use their new personal understanding of what antiracism is to create that culture in their own company, for their own goals, in a way that works for their own people.
- Instead of getting it right the first time, companies are going to make mistakes. They will offend some people. Lawsuits are less likely to happen to companies that are making a serious effort and more likely to happen to companies that are just going through the motions or doing things for ‘optics’.
*Small Business Pro Tip: If you’re able, bring the entire team together to talk about change, what employees would like to see and who wants to be involved in the process.
It is important for each company to develop their own DEI approach, since each company is different. However, it may help you understand your journey by looking at what a few other companies are doing:
- To see how one local company, VF Corporation, is implementing and reporting on its DEI strategy, review their Inclusion & Diversity Annual Profile