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Home Business & Finance Common mistakes managers make with DEI

Common mistakes managers make with DEI

Document Analysis NLP IA

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Summary (IA Generated)

Recently, Basecamp came under fire for announcing new approaches to several aspects of its work culture like benefits, performance reviews, and DEI efforts.

Most significantly, it banned political discussions amongst employees on company channels, a decision also taken by Coinbase late last year.

This is a problem, but it’s also an opportunity for executives who want to build truly progressive companies in 2021.

For those leaders, here are a few things to know about building inclusive cultures that walk the talk.

Employees expect you to get political.

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Employees won’t just stage walkouts when they think you’re on the wrong side of history; they expect you to be proactive with your political stances.

A recent report from Hue, a community of marketers of color, found that more than 50% of people of color refuse to work for a company that fails to speak out against racism.

The learning is clear: employees are taking social stands at work—blurring the lines between personal and political, which only ever existed for the privileged anyway—and they expect the same kind of enthusiastic engagement from their leaders.

“There is a lot of harmful language floating around in the DEI industry that sets it back,” says Reema Mitra, a strategy consultant at define&empower, a Black feminist collective.

For example: the popular “bring your whole self to work” is, often, a dangerous proposition for people of color, who may be judged unfairly on everything from their hairstyles and accents to their cultural practices.

This also fixes the “lean in” model of problem-solving for DEI: by putting the onus on leaders to study the actual problem—systemic discrimination—it relieves the victims of responsibility, who are often unfairly expected to fix inequity by changing their own behaviors, while also enduring exclusion on a daily basis.

To get to authentic solutions, Mitra recommends treating DEI like other business issues.

“Every leader is where they are because they know how to fix problems by identifying root causes,” says Mitra.

A good way of managing this is offering a flexible menu wherein employees can choose the benefits that matter most to them, thus creating a sense of support and belonging in varied, individualized ways.

DEI is the correction of historical inequity that has set back people’s careers, families’ wealth and communities’ progress—and it’s hard, necessary work that has to be approached with humility and care.

“People tend to see it as ‘passion’ work, but it’s a strategic, organizational commitment,” says Diya Khanna, a DEI manager in the tech industry.

The more resources you put in, the more you get in the form of safe and sustainable work culture.


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