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Learning to sit with the discomfort of not being an expert is crucial, as well as knowing when and where to ask for help. 

This conversation emphasizes the need for better connections and relationships, both in our personal lives and the workplace, as a means of nourishing ourselves and others.

Check out the latest episode of “Why Don’t We Talk About this Podcast?! with my dynamic guest, Greta Lax, MS, CDP®

We converse about the challenges of exploring differences and engaging in difficult conversations within the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) landscape from both the personal and professional front.

Get to know Greta Lax as we discuss: Connecting Across Differences, Studying Abroad, After 9/11, Moving Back to the Region, Christine Ann Center, Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), Organizational Psychology, Appleton Juneteenth Day Celebration, Snowpocalypse 2023, Cozzy Corner, Leadership, and other interesting topics. 

DEI in the Workplace: Are you the missing piece?

You are likely already wearing many hats at work, and now you’ve been assigned to implement DEI strategies for your department.

You know the terms and support the idea behind the work, but what about putting the work into practice: how prepared do you feel for this role?  

You’re not alone. Most DEI content focuses on teams and company-level measures and fails to fully address the individual’s work in making it happen. 

As a leader or manager who influences policy and practice, you may be the missing piece in truly successful DEI work!

Signs you may be the missing piece:

Diversity in the Workplace: You’re not alone.

As more organizations are taking up the charge to implement DEI initiatives, more employees, managers, and leaders are being asked to play a role.  Often, there isn’t a lot of preparation beyond attending a few workshops.  While many organizations now have a Director or Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), employees at all levels have to participate in the work of DEI for such efforts to be successful.  

For example, a CDO may set a strategy for hiring, training, and retaining a more diverse workforce, but who actually does the hiring?  It usually involves a mix of experienced employees, managers, and human resources. When it comes down to it, these folks do the interviewing, scoring, and sharing feedback that leads to the final decision, often with little preparation.  Eventually, these folks are also training and creating the day-to-day environment that helps keep employees…or does not.  The lens of each team member, including their biases, becomes a part of the process.

How are we preparing folks at all levels of the workplace to play their roles in DEI and belonging work? Too often, the answer is…not enough.  Most of the focus is on organizational metrics and not enough on the individuals throughout the organization– leaders at all levels– who are critical to the long-term success of DEI and belonging work.

The Role of the Individual in DEI

Although using different strategies can help, it is not possible to completely remove everyone's individual perspective from these processes. We actually don't want to do that because it would remove the benefit of having multiple perspectives. However, we also have biases which we need to be aware of. Training on implicit bias and dimensions of diversity is helpful, but it is not enough for individuals to succeed in this work. True success relies on personal work- our unique mindset is like a lens through which we see the world. We need to understand our lens and why it matters.

We all see the world differently because of our different backgrounds and experiences. My view of the world is different because of the things I have experienced and the things I have been taught. That means that how I see, hear, understand, interpret, and define issues in the workplace is also different from how other people see them. And this lens also affects how I see and judge people who I meet in interviews, or how I interpret issues that arise at work.

So, if we each have different lenses through which we view one another and the world around us, how can we truly “see” one another as we see ourselves?  How can we know how individual lenses affect what people even define as issues or problems, especially when cultural differences are present?  

The Intercultural Development Inventory® is a tool that we use to measure how able someone is to consider other people's perspectives. This tool is cross-culturally validated, which means it is accurate when measuring different cultures. With this tool, we can see how capable someone thinks they are at adapting our perspectives and behaviors in situations where there are cultural differences, compared to how other people from other cultures view them. This information can help us understand our current mindset when interacting with people from other cultures, and gives us information on how we can learn to do better.

What’s Missing in Most Diversity Training?

You and I see the world somewhat, perhaps even wildly differently, based on our lifetimes of experience.  On the one hand, this is a significant reason why diversity is so essential in the workplace: creating a wealth of perspectives whether we are working on products, people, processes.  Our lenses can also, however, get in the way of our ability to fully appreciate the similarities and differences between us and cloud our ability to be successful in genuinely seeing someone, or something, for what it is.

Culture is the customs, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of a social group. It can be about the foods we eat or don't eat, how we expect people to behave, and what we value. Even if your organization is small, there will be some significant cultural differences. Successfully navigating these commonalities and differences requires intercultural competence. successfully implementing DEI and belonging throughout an organization also requires intercultural competence in individuals across the organization.

This work cannot be done without significant self-reflection and learning: it is more personal than many other trainings you will ever experience.  And it is the work of a lifetime, as a big part of the process is learning a sense of cultural humility that guides us to continually assess what we may need to unlearn and relearn.  How will you incorporate this personal and professional development into your practice, team, and organization to help ensure your success?

Are you the piece of the puzzle missing from successful DEI? 

This is the work I have chosen: to help individuals and some small teams become better prepared for DEI and belonging, anti-racism, anti-oppression, justice, and liberation work.  My goal is to help leaders develop the mindset, vision, and tools to play their role in creating a more just world through their teams, organizations, communities, and dismantling systems that create and maintain inequities. 

The IDI ® assessment is our starting point.  Then, our work together will help you personalize your development plan and support you in achieving your goals through private coaching, a virtual learning community, or consulting with your team.  

Let's take the next steps together! 

Set up an introductory call to learn more.