As the debate rages on the extent of equity and social justice for all, two perspectives are emerging. On the one hand, the traditional school of thought represents people who believe that things are going well and that the system operates well based on their conception of equity and social justice for all. These traditionalists assert that our system is fair and that it works as it is supposed to do. They further claim that the system’s operation aligns with the founding fathers’ statements in the 1776 Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that their Creator endows them with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
You know how it goes, every Black History Month, Juneteenth, or special holiday, companies around the world publish media about diversity and inclusion. At times, it can feel like they are obligated to do so, and they just plaster a generic diversity and inclusion sign on their website or social media page.
This is common to see with companies that desperately want to be portrayed as inclusive, when in reality, they are far from it. When you visit an educational institution that has 98% white faculty, but they are very vocal about the importance of diversity, it makes you wonder…am I missing something?
Here lies performative diversity, which is the subject of this article.
What is “Performative” Diversity?
When a company rallies for diversity and inclusion in public and is very loud about it on social media, but their policies are discriminatory, then they are engaging in performative diversity.
This can be hard to spot because not many people have the time to interview each employee to find out whether they’ve felt discriminated against during their time at the company.
It can be incredibly difficult nowadays to tell whether a company is saving face, or whether its leaders are genuinely motivated by fairness to level the playing field for all kinds of people.
What does that performative diversity look like?
- D&I branding on their website
- Token POC people on their company photos
- Conveniently timed BLM or D&I social media posts
- Large percentage of employees identify with one race or ethnicity
These are just some of the factors to consider when analyzing whether or not a company is participating in performative diversity. You can go to a university where all the faculty members are white except for that one token POC person.
You may ask why there is little racial diversity in their faculty and you’ll be met with phrases like:
- “We only hire the most qualified people”
- “There aren’t that many POC people interested in the position.”
- “This is a white majority neighborhood.”
- Or the classic, “It’s just a coincidence.”
I’ve been the token POC person before. It’s not fun, half the time you just feel like a black dot on a white canvas that is brought out for photo ops to make the institution look good. Which is why I’m so relieved to be working in a company that actually promotes diversity and inclusion internally – and not just for the press.
True Diversity & Inclusion
When I joined the Pearl Lemon PR agency, I was pleasantly surprised that my hairstyles, my accent, and my race were ever an issue. I’ve never been treated differently from other employees because people in this company genuinely believe that talent can come from anywhere.
It was a stark contrast from the Swiss companies I was accustomed to that made me feel like I had so much to prove because my race and nationality put me at a disadvantage. To me, it’s clear now that when a company has internal policies that create a culture of acceptance and inclusivity, they don’t have to post about it for you to know that D&I is a priority to them. Let’s take a closer look at what true D&I looks like.
It starts with:
- An inclusive recruitment process
- Diverse leaders
- Color-blind recruitment process
- Inclusive company policies
- Active recruitment of people from different countries/backgrounds
All of these elements are internal. This has nothing to do with whether or not the company’s social media presence shows diverse people or has black squares in solidarity with BLM. When the leadership is diverse, and the recruitment process is designed to level the playing field for people of different backgrounds, then that is legitimate.
A diverse company doesn’t have to come and tell you that they value inclusivity. You should be able to tell as soon as you meet the employees and hear their stories. When a trans, non-binary POC person can thrive in a company in the same way that a white, straight man would – then that company is truly diverse and inclusive.
The key here is analyzing the difference between those who promote D&I externally vs those who implement it internally. That right there, is what makes the biggest difference.
It means that employees don’t face discrimination and prejudice, and that everyone has a chance to become the best that they can be regardless of their orientation, gender, or race.
Nearly every day I receive pleas to aid the less fortunate. Like many Americans, I give to a number of organizations from the local food bank to Doctors Without Borders.
Citizens of the United States are the most charitable people in the world! Collectively, Americans give over $292 billion, 1.44% of GDP (2019,) each year to charitable organizations! This figures do not include the millions of hours of volunteer service.
Canada is the second most charitable country, giving 0.77% of GDP, with the United Kingdom third at 0.54% of GDP. Many countries do not have a history of charitable giving. Instead, their citizens depend on religious institutions and the state to care for those in need.
Mauricio Velasquez, CEO of Diversity Training Group DTG, speaks with Deborah Levine, Editor-in-Chief of the American Diversity Report, about his training, consulting, and coaching on Sexual Harassment Prevention. DTG’s serves a broad range of clients including small and large organizations, not-for-profit, professional service firms, local, state and federal governments, law enforcement, and the military.
Check out Mauricio’s other podcasts:
Our approach to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is broken. We have done the same thing over and over for years, expecting better representation and more equitable treatment, all to no avail. In fact, many people still don’t know exactly what D&I is.
At every turn, there’s news about people being mistreated, excluded, and harmed. The social and political unrest often seem impossible to escape. Situations arise on a regular basis that create a social media nightmare for organizations resulting in public shaming and forced apologies. The mental, emotional, and physical toll this turmoil takes impacts us all, regardless of our role— victim, perpetrator, or observer.
We can’t fix the mess we’re in with a 2-hour training session. Creating a world that is truly more equitable for everyone is a process. It takes time and practice.
Cultivating compassion can help us nurture more connected communities and workplaces. On the surface, compassion sounds like a soft skill. However, compassion isn’t just about being kind to other people and doing nice things for them. Instead, it’s an active process through which we build skills and knowledge to understand what kind of help is wanted, rather than assuming what is needed.
This article is distilled from my book, “The D Word: 12 Steps to Diversity Recovery,” which is focused on building the skills needed to bring a more humanitarian approach to D&I using compassion and resilience.
An outlier incident has crushed the economy, hurled masses into unemployment, closed schools, and forced isolation. The global pandemic has generated a health crisis tsunami of suffering, anxiety, depression, and addiction, which is why our inner and outer healing must be a priority for overall health and well-being. Authors Edwards and Jackson view inner and outer health as the wholeness required to adapt to an ever-changing environment. They explain the differences and connections between inner and outer health, as well as the importance of altering one’s environment to secure the essence of inner peace and be an extension of one’s own perceptual systems when their own are compromised. Spoken from lived experience and research, Drs. Edwards and Jackson describe the impact to a person’s well-being when inner and outer health are not in harmony and discuss the fortitude that it takes to focus on one’s own healing – not the healing solutions chosen by someone else. Focusing and committing to inner and outer healing positively can affect one’s personal and professional lives and the communities around them if prioritized.
Planning for a Fulfilling Life After Work
During and After COVID – 19
Beyond the Financial and Legal Aspects
This article addresses the importance of including all the major aspects of a fulfilling and healthy lifestyle in retirement. The large majority of books and articles on retirement planning focus just on the financial and legal aspects. The article emphasizes paying attention to eight major facets of life after full-time work as critical to a successful, fulfilling, and balanced existence: in two words, “Holistic Retirement.”
A Look at How Foreign-born Students are Faring in the Pandemic
At this writing, students around the world have been on lockdown since March 2020. As a result, online and virtual environments have been used by school districts in order to reduce regression and loss of skills. This essay presents a look at English language learners (ELL) and challenges they face as a consequence of loss of face to face instruction. Regulations, testing, the digital divide, support of ESL students, and improving attendance in relation to ELLs is examined. A section about implications for future instruction as LEP students as classrooms open up again and some who have graduated go to the next phases in their lives is explored.
Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States following the surrender of General Robert E. Lee in 1865. Since that day, each year Black communities have commemorated that fateful day by uniting in celebration. Over the last year, however, following the murders of George Floyd and many others, Juneteenth has taken on a new meaning.
As a person of color who has worked in Corporate America and gone on to start my own company, Juneteenth is a time for me to reflect not only on the progress that has been made, but also focus on the steps we need to take to give Black and other minority founders the same opportunities as our non-minority counterparts.
Cultural expressions, icons, and the arts have played a major role in how we’ve seen ourselves and others in the past, and can play a major part in bringing us together in the future. Before social media, newspapers and black and white television exposed us to the lives of others, arts, and society. Whether it be negatively or positively, music, TV, and movies and the imagery they evoke will continue to impact our society and the way we view community.
As a Black woman, the images shown in movies, TV, and mentioned in music has had a major impact on me and my self image. Cultural expressions have seemingly been more negative than positive and date back to the runaway slave flyers posted around America a century or two ago. The image of the Black woman and Black man were usually exaggerated with a huge nose and a goofy-like look to depict ignorance. We have also seen the image of the angry Black woman plastered everywhere.
Continue reading The Impact of Images – by Kenyada Posey