The most recent events have shifted the focus. We must leave “business as usual” behind as it relates to changing the status quo in organizations. This must be a turning point in what companies do to create racial justice and truly inclusive environments.
It is time for change!
All too often, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs are a check-the-box action, which only promotes further action for very few. Many leaders want to look at bias, but have steered away from wanting to discuss racism, privilege, and inequity.
What!?! Can this be an option any longer?
You cannot take a serious, extensive look and hold back at the same time; and expect a different outcome. Racism, privilege and inequity must all be examined and addressed if we are to effect real change!
Awareness of biases is not enough to change behaviors if actual behaviors are not changed in everyday interactions. You must go deeper with self-examination.
You cannot change policies, procedures and practices without examining the holes in the status quo.
Extensive examination both on the individual level and at the organizational level are required. This takes courage and commitment. It is past time that we shatter the ceilings that prevent marginalized groups from attaining their places in the leadership of corporations, firms, institutions, and communities.
Now is the time!
We must leave the comfort zone and be part of the solution. Otherwise, we are part of the problem.
It can be as simple as remembering A,B,C; although it may not be easy. But it is necessary, and it is essential to make sustainable change.
A – Awareness, Accountability & Actions
You have to know where you are before you can get to where you want to go. An idealized self-image of how you are in relation to diversity, equity and inclusion often hampers building deeper awareness of the gap between where you are and your ideal self. The gap is the place where accountability is required to take action. It should never be about waiting on someone or something else to do the work. The work belongs to each of us. Inclusion is an individual responsibility.
- What am I doing to create equity?
- What am I doing to become anti-racist?
- What am I doing to utilize the privilege and position I have to help others advance?
B – Bias, Beliefs & Behaviors
Simply being aware of biases is not enough because it only pays lip service to something, but it often stops there. We must commit to examine thoughts and beliefs to identify behaviors that collude with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and ableism. Approach this work without defending against your beliefs and behaviors. Defensiveness and blame only stop the exploration and stop the conversation. If you feel defensive, ask yourself why? What is it you believe you will lose by addressing systems that perpetuate inequities?
Deeper exploration of beliefs and behaviors that perpetuate inequities require us to overcome F.E.A.R.©
We experience a sense of Fight or Flight, Freeze or Appease. Ask yourself, what am I defending? Is it my position, status, self-esteem, etc.?
Pause and observe thoughts and their potential impact.
- Don’t Exclude others and continue the separation. Question what you have been told or taught.
- Stop Avoiding examining histories and having conversations.
- Stop Reacting so that you can effectively respond. Withdrawal, denial, and blaming are emotional reactions.
If we do not challenge our learned biases, beliefs, and behaviors, we cannot identify what behaviors need to change, nor how to change them. This takes intention, commitment and willingness to change.
C – Commitment, Courage & Change
Commit to speaking up. Staying silent is collusion, which is conspiring with the status quo. Challenge systems and beliefs.
Commit to making it a way of life so that it will be sustainable.
- Carefully review and question policies, practices and procedures that have held in place the current state that perpetuates inequities.
- Examine your privilege and power so that you can make a difference.
- Peggy McIntosh’s work on White Privilege is an excellent resource for personal examination https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf.
Unlearning racism is possible through personal exploration of learned messages and committing to work toward anti-racism. Your privilege, position, and power can be used in a positive, transformative way. Personal work is required, along with accountability and commitment.
If you need assistance going deeper into your understanding and transformation, either personally or for your organization, I have tools to assist. It is not a check-the-box process. It needs to be part of how we live so that we can truly be the change that makes a difference. Let’s do this!