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Resolved: Embracing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2022

We're now three months into the new year, and many of us have made (and, let’s be honest, probably broken) a slew of New Year’s resolutions. As we journey through this new year, I challenge us not to “resolution” but to resolve. To resolve, or be resolved, is to set firm determination on a course of action, a solution, a change. A resolution is hope, words on a page, a desire for change … to resolve is to act, push beyond only words, and drive change forward despite our own limitations.

When it comes to DEI in the workplace, 2022 is the year to resolve. Commit to real change, and honest examinations of our teams, our company cultures, and the truths behind the commitments we made in 2021, 2020, and beyond to action. Above all, it’s a year to ask ourselves: Are our team members thriving in or merely tolerating our workplaces?

We’ve mostly moved beyond the notion that “tolerance” alone builds inclusive spaces. Regardless of classical definitions of tolerance, today it has come to broadly represent “passive acceptance”—the notion that ignoring difference for the sake of “peace” is better than addressing and actively accepting differences. But many of us are in desperate need of confronting a much “quieter” form of tolerance invading our workplaces: the “tolerance” shown by team members who see a lack of diversity, don’t experience inclusion, and long for equity.

When team members feel a contrasting sense of loyalty to a workplace and a lack of belonging, acceptance, and inclusion, what do they do? Often, they begin merely TOLERATING your workplace. They get the job done, but without passion. They do what’s required, not what gives them a sense of purpose. They disengage. They stop thriving.

It's time to resolve to creating workplaces that thrive on embracing and celebrating diversity and difference, actively building inclusion and belonging into culture, and pushing for equitable opportunities for growth, advancement, mentorship, and beyond.

“Performative” DEI often gets stuck focusing on what and who we’re “missing.” But by focusing on what’s missing, we often run the risk of—or run headlong into—ignoring those who have already chosen us, committed to our team, and find themselves ignored or left behind. Active and genuine pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion is an opportunity to engage both in addressing what’s missing and ensure we don’t lose those we may be ignoring.

As we focus in this new year on investing or reinvesting in, expanding or revitalizing, our DEI initiatives and cultural transformations, let’s remember to look at and listen for what our team members are “telling” us, even without speaking. Are we creating spaces that our team members tolerate, or spaces where our team members thrive? The answer is crucial to each step of your DEI journey.

 

(Adapted from a post originally made January 3, 2022)

 
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Wonderful article, Khara! I've heard that people of color are often encouraged to conform to the culture of existing teams rather than show their own unique perspectives, personalities, and background. How can companies be proactive in making sure everybody feels comfortable in being who they are and not stifle what makes them different, in order to celebrate (and not just tolerate) the diversity of the team?

  Comment was last edited about 5 months ago by Brent Williams Brent Williams
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Great question, Brent! I find that the best starting place is simply asking that very question: We don't know how comfortable or uncomfortable our team members are bringing themselves to our organizations--or even how much of themselves they even want to bring to work--until we acknowledge that those differences exist and ask the question. It's not a question to just jump into, though! For companies wanting to be inclusive and welcoming of differences in identity, ideas, etc., there needs to be a clear commitment and action toward creating a workplace culture that affirms that commitment before we start asking team members to trust us with who they are! There's a lot more too it ... but the commitment and the question are great places to start!

  Khara House
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Thank you for this thoughtful blog, Khara. I particularly love this question you pose: "Are our team members thriving in or merely tolerating our workplaces?" I think it's an especially important question to ask right now when employee turnover is higher than ever and multifamily team members are tempted by job opportunities all around. Those who are disengaged, merely 'tolerating' their workplace conditions, will be more tempted by other offers than those who are thriving. The task at hand for supervisors at all levels is to clear away whatever clutter is getting in the way of letting employees thrive. Ditch the 'passive acceptance' in favor of bold, sustained action. Thanks for the inspiration!

  Kara Rice
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Thank you, Kara! That means a lot, and I love you insight on “clearing the clutter” to enable thriving!

  Khara House
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Excellent article! I feel most companies are stuck at the "awareness" stage in their DEI initiatives and have yet to put actionable steps forward to create truly equitable spaces for all. The tolerance you speak of was definitely my experience in most work environments. It absolutely affected my productivity and my ability to relate to certain co-workers who diversity efforts were less than acceptable. I hope the rest of 2022 inspires company leaders to get real about theri DEI efforts and make commitments which result in real change. We will all be better for it when our spaces of work truly accept us all and are focused on truly including everyone.

  Salandra Grice

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