Everyone is talking about DE&I. I love the conversation around these important topics, but I find we don't talk enough about Equity in a real way. We talk about equality but not equity. What does equity really mean? How does it apply to the workplace? What can we do to make things more equitable for the team members we bring to our organization? These questions are not asked enough and given enough weight in these conversations.
I hear the phrase "I don't see _____" whether it's color, race, disability, or any other factor that makes people different. And for the most part, I like the sentiment, but it negates what is at the heart of Equity. If you are only treating people equally, you miss a key part of their experience. Life experiences and circumstances make up a person's reality. When we discount a person's experience, we deny them the psychological safety we are trying to create. We deny the person's ability to bring their whole self to work. And we deny them the access to opportunities. Here's the sad part we don't realize what we are doing. These are dangerous traps that we unknowingly fall into on a daily basis.
How do we overcome these traps? How do we bring these topics to the forefront of interactions with people? It's simple. We put in heart work. We listen to people and their journey and see how we can help. We create spaces for people to express themselves. We empower our people to understand just because someone is different from us doesn't mean there is no common ground. More things connect us than separate us, and all it starts with is simple conversation. Lived experiences qualify us. Lived experiences build who we are, and they validate us. We must take the time to value these essential aspects of us.
This work does not start at the top. It starts with us as individuals building relationships with our team members. It starts with team members going to their bosses asking to start cohorts. It's starting a bookclub or podcast club that speaks to your common ground. This will advance organizations once other people in the organization see its effectiveness. You can be the change you want to see. It starts with us being intentional about how we interact with each other. We are the key to enacting what is possible. It takes courage, the willingness to be vulnerable, and most of all not standing on the sidelines. Take that step, interact with someone today, and see where the conversation leads. Experience matters, and the one you create today could be the one that takes hold tomorrow.