I read an article by Liana Douillet Guzman, Chief Marketing Officer at Skillshare, on her thoughts about the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the business world. She has some valuable insights, as we struggle to figure out what to say and do amidst systemic racial injustice concerns.
- Embrace your vulnerability. Not knowing is OK. Look in the mirror, take stock of your company’s beliefs, and find ways to fill in the gaps.
- Be the leader your employees need and expect. Leaders’ words and actions are under a microscope like never before. An empty statement doesn’t cut it. Employees need leaders who stand for what is right, both internally and externally.
Proactivity is the best activity. Real change doesn’t occur when companies put a Band-Aid on their exposed weaknesses after protests start. Long-lasting change happens when companies continue DEI efforts year-round.
Guzman says she’s optimistic about 2021 and thinks the lessons the business community has learned will be invaluable. “It will continue to be tough, but with open conversation, genuine leadership, and proactivity, real progress is going to happen.”
Jill, What Can I Do? Develop a strong knowledge of the foundations of DEI. You can do this by staying abreast through books, blogs, and training courses. Then, role model what you learn. While there’s no silver bullet to succeeding at DEI, the benefits are enormous, including increased employee engagement, the ability to outperform your competition, increased retention, and better decision making. While a DEI initiative is never finished, the sooner you start the sooner you’ll see results.