With the popular discussion of diversity and inclusion (D&I) becoming more prominent in the corporate, higher education and tech world, it’s the perfect time to cast an eye on our organizations and ask if we are being as inclusive and committed to D&I as we think we are. So why are people failing to take responsibility to create positive change?
It takes both energy and resources to solve these complex problems and it is difficult to stay dedicated when progress is slow or non-existent. In the article Diversity Fatigue is real by The Chronicle of Higher Education, it states, “Underrepresented faculty and staff members share the burden of diversity work in many visible and invisible forms: They often assume heavier workloads in teaching, advising, mentoring, and counseling, and spend more time on outreach, recruitment, training and workshops, and other service work. While their institutions benefit from collective gains in student success, those who do this work find it exhausting to do more than their fair share, indefinitely.”
Many of the existing diversity and inclusion initiatives focus on merely increasing the representation numbers of diverse candidates, instead of focusing on inclusion, welcoming new and different ideas, and belonging throughout the organization.
Many people feel they can’t make a significant difference in such a complex web of challenges and become too overwhelmed to take action.
Where do we go from here?
It is important for organizations to raise their collective standards about how people engage in the workplace. Begin by listening to marginalized people who tell stories and welcome their ideas and unique perspectives. It is important to create an environment where teammates not only feel valued, listened to, and understood, but also, have the opportunity to thrive.
It is important for companies to continue the work they have committed to doing. While committing to diverse individuals is important and necessary, it doesn’t stop there. Under-represented individuals must be given an opportunity to advance in the company. Having diversity in leadership communicates to staff, especially diverse staff, that there is a pathway to leadership and shows them a concrete example of what that looks like.