3 Ways To Further Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Conversations In The Workplace

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Last week, Merit HR held a virtual event on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). We were lucky enough to host two wonderful and well-respected experts in this field as our panelists — Dr. Julianna Hynes and Grant Doster M.B.A. 

We received a lot of really question questions before, during and after the event, but most people were interested in how they could take immediate action. What could they do right now, to help their coworkers feel safe, valued and heard? So, we asked Dr. Hynes and Mr. Doster how we can become better ally’s — here’s what they had to offer:

Dr. Julianna Hynes
  1. Acknowledge your biases and commit to challenging your assumptions/mindset when you feel uncomfortable around someone that’s not like you.
  2. Be genuinely curious. Get to know people as people and not “the blonde on the 3rd floor” or “my Asian friend.” Learn their stories. Where are they from? Where did they grow up? How did they get to the role they’re in? You don’t have to be intrusive, just curious. You’ll find commonalities, I am sure.
  3. Listen. When someone is speaking, listen actively. Don’t interrupt. Clarify what you think they meant. Don’t assume you know.
  4. Be intentional about building relationships with a variety of people, with a variety of backgrounds, working in a variety of roles.
Grant Doster M.B.A
  1. Educate yourself: POC, women, immigrants, white men who don’t feel they fit in are, and will live this experience for the foreseeable future, so they don’t need to hear a non-different perception or perspective of what they are going through. You must better understand the experience and the love language of the disfavored and the disenfranchised. Remember, this is NOT a pep rally, so curb your enthusiasm in lieu of true empathy to speak while building up the passion and the desire to help.  Be self-aware. Identify the threat triggers that may have you feeling threatened needlessly, so you won’t react when you see, hear, or feel them.  Recognize the dog whistles that are coming from people who don’t want to see your efforts towards camaraderie succeed.
  2. Stand beside (or behind) the affected first: Leadership has its place but even leaders must be able to be good followers as well. Literally and figuratively many people want to charge ahead in the face of audacity and injustice. You hear people say things like “WE have to head this off at the pass” or “WE have to get in front of this thing.” The fact of the matter is that disenfranchised folks don’t see the WE when WE are being accosted. But WE ALL do have a responsibility to mitigate and eventually obliterate disenfranchisement in all ISM forms. Allyship requires humility in leadership and followership. As well-meaning as their intentions may be, most allies have not experienced the pain that the disenfranchised have experienced even if the ally has their own. So, allies, ask for help in understanding your role with your disenfranchised friend before jumping into action. That is not to say you should be reticent to act, just don’t automatically take the leadership role. Check in, have discussions, seek occasional tutoring. Be an ally, not a savior.
  3. Pace yourself, be resilient and stay focused: Create a one, five, and even 20-year plan for your team and/or your family, complete with benchmarks and KPI’s. Not just the demographics you want to see, but the desired behaviors and psychological safety cues you want in place. Open your Peakon or other surveys to measure belonging AND inclusion. We must also prepare for the lull in the storm. A few my east coast friends have told me that the calm may actually be the eye of the hurricane.  This could lead to the unprepared being knocked out when the second half of the storm slams through.  We have to share a joint vision of what the future could look like, hold each other accountable, and not become complacent.

A full recording of last week’s virtual event can be found on the Merit HR YouTube channel.

If you have any questions about this or our future events, head to our full Events page!