I’ve got a question for you. Is DEI dead?
That’s what I’ve been grappling with. Is it dead? (I’m sliding my soapbox out from under my desk!)
I’ve been rolling this question around in my mind since reading this article a couple weeks ago in the Washington Post.
But it’s more than just this one article. One of my DEI clients shared a story where she told someone that she was heading to a DEI taskforce meeting, and the person rolled their eyes. Rolled. Their. Eyes. (And yes, I did have some commentary about that!)
My retort to the rolling of eyes and leaders (by title, not by actions) saying “DEI is dead”:
Is good leadership dead?
🤦🏻Those leaders who think DEI is dead are not willing to be present in the real world where difference surrounds them every day. They’re not good leaders.
🤦🏻Those leaders who think DEI is dead are operating from a place of fear. Acknowledging the existence of difference, exclusion, and inequity means that something may need to change for them. That’s scary. They’re not good leaders.
🤦🏻Those leaders who think DEI is dead are operating from a place of perceived power and privilege. They believe that they don’t have to acknowledge DEI and their privilege protects them from having to do so. They’re not good leaders.
🤦🏻Those leaders who think DEI is dead are completely and totally out of touch with others who are not living the same lives as they are. They’re not good leaders.
🤦🏻Those leaders who think DEI is dead are in denial because they might have to own some mistakes that they’ve made. They’re not good leaders.
🤦🏻Those leaders who think DEI is dead are quite simply operating from a place of ignorance. They have no idea what diversity, equity, and inclusion really mean and how to incorporate it into their leadership. They’re not good leaders.
🤦🏻Those leaders who think DEI is dead let good leadership die along with that belief. They’re not good leaders.
Embracing DEI is synonymous with good, authentic leadership. DEI is about values. You cannot lead well without embracing difference, engaging everyone, and creating equitable experiences and outcomes for all. You can lead, but you won’t lead well.
When you are accountable for the success of others – through projects, teams, organizations – believing DEI is dead is synonymous with saying:
⛔ Some of you matter, and some of you are dead to me.
⛔ Some of you can participate, and others of you are dead to me.
⛔ Some of you can have access to everything, and some of you are dead to me.
Leaders who believe DEI is dead, can you say those statements from your chest, like you mean it?
Corporate Soldier Sidebar:
Killing the sales game.
Bringing a new product to market.
Taking the company global.
All good sh*t.
ut if it’s done on a foundation that lacks DEI, the price to make these things happen was far too great and, guess what, the outcomes are below what you could have achieved with DEI at the foundation. You may be receiving external validation and accolades for accomplishments, but the people who got you there won’t be singing your praises. How you achieve matters as much, if not more, than what you achieve.
To those leaders (by title, not by actions) who say, DEI is dead:
- I respect your right to be afraid.
- I respect your right to disagree.
- I respect your right to make mistakes.
- But I don’t respect your right to dismantle, roll your eyes at, or declare “dead” something you’re unwilling to or don’t yet understand.
- But I do believe you can grow and change.
If you’re on this journey with me and you want to learn more about HOW to bring DEI to life, click here for my list of 26 real, actionable tips to embrace diversity, create inclusion, and activate equity at work. Hang it up where you can see it and put it to work every single day!
BASIC Leaders are just happy to have the title or the accountability. (You’ve seen them.)
BOLD Leaders are aware that their leadership matters and they know that DEI is not dead.
BADA$$ Leaders know that DEI will NEVER be dead, and these values are core to their authentic leadership.
Sliding my soapbox back under my desk now.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE.