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What if RESISTANCE means we’re making progress on DEI?

I was reflecting the other day on the increasing noise on DEI initiatives. People telling us that DEI is dead, it is losing investment, leaders being let go. But what if the opposite is actually true?

In the book Advita Patel and I wrote on Building a Culture of Inclusivity: Effective Internal Communication for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we have a chapter focused on Change. I think most people will agree that when we talk about DEI, it is a transformational change that we are going through professionally, collectively, globally and personally.

When we talk about the change curve, we start with Shock, Denial, Anger and RESISTANCE before we get to Acceptance, Adoption and Commitment to a new normal.

Maybe I am forever the optimist and I believe things are getting noisier because that is exactly what is supposed to happen before we move to acceptance. A last push to keep things the same when we’re closer than ever to them changing.

Maybe I am excited by real conversations we are having with clients in healthcare, education and government paying close attention to demographic shifts and concern for talent retention, recruitment, recognition and results that are having them reaching out to prepare now for a changing future.

Maybe I see through the demonstrative noise and notice that things have truly changed in the last few years in a way that I would have never imagined. Is it perfect – NO – but have we moved forward in terms of progress – ABSOLUTELY. People are more conscious on big D diversity than ever before even though we have a lot of work to do on equity and inclusion.

I believe that what is dying is:
– Performative DEI where we simply check boxes
– DEI held at arms length and separate to that which is embedded into business strategy and practices (as it should be)
– The belief that true meritocracy is what got all leaders where they are today.
– Our willingness to accept mediocrity versus excellence

We will have a last bit of pushback while some fall into old habits consciously or subconsciously to fight changes and I’m okay with that. I’ve always said that the noise is still there because they still care, it is the silence that scares me. We need to hear diverse points of view since it means that people are comfortable sharing them. We can’t solve problems if people are keeping their concerns to themselves. Out in the open, we can have real dialogue and conversations that move us forward.

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