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)