Lean Into Possibility

Micro Tales on Diversity Equity and Inclusion Every Day

This month, I want to share a few micro-tales on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in day to day practice. Given the complex challenge DEI poses, it’s easier and understandable that we often only get so far as establishing high level values, overarching strategies and philosophies. And yet, real change can only occur when we move from big sky conversations to something smaller that we can grasp and manage on a day to day level.

In the US, with the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, a continued rise in violence against Asian Americans and Congress considering vital overdue reparations and bill with the Tulsa Massacre, diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts continue to be established as a fundamental part of our culture. This is a welcome and significant transition from where DEI was an invisible, often sidelined and low priority discussion to (hopefully) DEI acknowledged as a constant journey for organizations.

This past week, I had the honor and pleasure to speak as a part of a panel on DEI at the Organization Development Network annual conference, in which these micro-tales emerged.

Micro-Tale #1: Panel Design Reconstructed
Micro-Takeaway: Look for ways in every day work tasks to include difference and balance power

Unexpectedly and happily, the opportunity arose for me to play a significant role in fundamentally redesigning the panel.

In the past year, this is something that has probably come up in your world and it came up here: Is it okay for a white male to play a leading role at a DEI event?  

The initial solution, which I’ve seen often as well, is to invite a POC (person of color) to join alongside or instead as a part of that leading role. In this case, the panel was planned to be facilitated by a white male — and they came to me as their first pick for being the POC co-facilitator.

I’ve always had an issue with doing things “for the optics”. And this choice felt like that (despite the intentions, which certainly were centered in a desire for equity and inclusion). I also feel that everyone’s identity is important and not just defined by race and gender. I am not in favor of making a positive move for minorities while making backwards steps for majorities. This continues an exclusive cycle as well – though in a much longer time span – and doesn’t support the notion of lifting all boats (even though I agree some boats need much more lifting today to support equity). 

It was the perfect opportunity to do something different and really, fundamentally, rethink what they were trying to achieve.

So here was my notion: If what we really want is to break down the power differential between facilitator and panelist, why don’t we elevate every panelist to facilitator? Rather than one “all powerful” question asker, why doesn’t each panelist develop and ask a question to their fellow panelists vital to them in the DEI conversation? And, even more, I would love for the original facilitator to have an opportunity to ask a question as well so we can hear their perspective.

This transformed the design – rather than a change for the optics, we really had an opportunity to respect what identity, expertise, and passion we each brought. The panel was still a panel – multiple voices commenting on an issue. 

This is just one example of how you can rethink equity, inclusion, power in an every day initiative. I invite you to ask yourself these questions the next time you’re going about a task:
1. Who are you not paying attention to?
2. Whose voice is loudest?
3. How can you hear more?
4. Together, how can you pull together or integrate a reflection of your perspectives in the solution?
Micro-Tale #2: Have Training and Policies Changed Corporate Culture?

Micro-Takeaway: Consider complex frameworks that help you make sense of the journey, not just individual pieces or elements.


Hear my answer on this great panel question in the 4 min clip below.

Micro-Tale #3: What brave conversations can we build capability in to help operationalize DEI and build permanent self evaluation and commitment to change?

Micro-Takeaway: Asking who is leading DEI efforts and why is one such brave conversation. Building capability to honestly assess strengths towards inclusion is another.

Hear my answer on this great panel question in the 4 min clip below.

What everyday micro-practices are you doing to creating belonging and equity around you?

Some extra reading:

CONSULTINGKADAKIA