Diversity, equity and inclusion is not a campaign that is launched to your team in an email; it can’t be micromanaged and can’t be an edict filtered down from the upper echelons of your organization. You can’t order up inclusion. The only way it works is if you intentionally and consistently incorporate it into your culture.
DE&I can be challenging for leaders. The difficult conversations can be, well, difficult and redefining your culture can’t easily be operationalized. But when the summer of 2020 came, we all tried. We hired Chief Diversity Officers, issued statements through social media and communicated routinely with our teams about events taking place in our communities.
Three years later, the importance of DE&I has waned in corporate America, dissolving into the same faded memory as facemasks and six-foot separation rules. A recent NBC report showed that 40% of layoffs at surveyed organizations were for DEI roles compared to 24% for non-DEI roles.
But it’s more important than ever that anyone who is marginalized for just being human knows wholeheartedly that their managers and leaders not only welcome their individuality, but will create spaces where it is safe to shine.
We have had our successes and our challenges during this journey at Bancroft. But through it all we have ensured that the conversations continue – even, and most importantly, the difficult ones.
If you are no longer focused on your DE&I efforts, I urge you to rethink its importance in your overall strategy. Start with the steps you can take now and then listen to the needs of your team. Not doing something because it’s hard is not the mark of a great leader and not worthy of who we are as humans. I’m committed. Are you?