DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Diversity speaks to the seen and unseen attributes that every individual represents in the presence of others. Equity recognizes that our place in society is based initially upon the families that we are born into. We get the benefit of the struggles as well as the ensuing successes or failures of our parents and family. Inclusion acknowledges that we make space for those that are different from us while taking the steps necessary to ensure they feel a sense of “belonging”.
As a DEI Practitioner, I help businesses develop strategies, action plans and reporting to improve/enhance their workplace diversity by nurturing an inclusive environment that provides equity for their employees, clients, and vendors. Leveraging my 20+ years of experience coupled with my Cornell training, I help craft a different, unique journey for each business that reflects their past history and desired future outcomes. I act as a guide, assisting businesses to walk their path and pursue the outcomes that best suit their level of interest and commitment.
My entire life has been directly and indirectly impacted by diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts long before they became topical points of conversation beginning with my birth in New York City. Where I lived, received my education and my employment were impacted by my race. My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents persevered throughout their lives and overcame tremendous adversity enabling me to be a “first-gen”, the first of my family to receive advanced degrees from a university. Their sacrifice changed and improved my life which ultimately improved the lives of my three children and grandchildren.
As a senior executive for a Fortune 500 company, I participated or led various DEI initiatives that were aligned with our overall business objectives to support the needs of our employees, our clients, our vendors, and the surrounding community. My consulting practice focuses on helping businesses thrive and prosper by applying a “DEI lens”. In our growing global economy, businesses with integrated DEI initiatives make better, more timely decisions which positively impacts their employees, clients, and vendors, ultimately enhancing their overall value. Admittedly, I was lucky. Effective DEI initiatives eliminate the need for luck, instead leveraging company resources to maximize opportunities for diverse employees. .
There are two major factors motivating companies to invest in DEI initiatives. The recent tragedies that occurred in the Black, Asian, and LGBTQ communities were far too numerous and onerous to be ignored or categorized as anomalies. Outraged business leaders, in response to concerns raised by their employees publicly vilified the offenders as well as the systemic, racist practices and policies that contributed to an environment in which individuals could be injured or killed simply because they were different.
The second factor contributing to the growing interest in DEI initiatives is the growing awareness that in a global economy, businesses must ensure their workforce, workplace and marketplace recognizes and incorporates diversity in all its many aspects. The long term success of businesses will be impacted by their ability to integrate DEI initiatives into their business DNA. In short, DEI initiatives are good for business.
A successful DEI strategy is openly embraced, supported, and championed by the CEO and Board of Directors in addition to the employees. It is imperative that the DEI strategy is aligned with the overall business strategy providing initiatives that support business goals and objectives. Finally, a successful DEI strategy includes “SMART” action plans which allow for efforts and results to be tracked, measured, and shared both internally and externally.
Simply stated, the most successful DEI initiatives are those in which everyone is encouraged to participate and contribute. True diversity celebrates all perspectives, including those perspectives that differ from our own or that I don’t personally support. We must develop and nurture an inclusive environment in which everyone feels valued and treasured. Proactive steps must be taken to ensure that equity is enjoyed by all by removing systemic barriers that hinder and impede progress. Allies and those with privilege should speak up and support DEI initiatives that ultimately benefit all employees as well as the company. Finally, wherever possible DEI initiatives must be aligned with the overall business strategy to maximize the benefits.