Category Archives: Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion

Barbara Johns, overlooked no longer – by Terry Howard

Hey readers, with African American history top of mind, does the name “Barbara Johns” ring a familiar bell with you? If not don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. You see, when African American history comes up there are two realities; first, it gets compressed into February (or recently Juneteenth) and, second, it typically cites the well-deserved names as its founder Carter G. Woodson, Dr. Charles Drew, Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver, W. E. B. DuBois Dr. King and others. So, I figured that perhaps the Barbara Johns’ story of profound unprecedented courage, the focus of this narrative, may pique your interest.  

But first for context, consider the following imaginary scenario.

Continue reading Barbara Johns, overlooked no longer – by Terry Howard

Ron “The Banner” DeSantis! – by Terry Howard

Doggonit Ron DeSantis, so-called “governor” of the great state of Florida. You just can’t seem to let well enough alone, can you? Your obsessive thirst for power and a move to the White House knows no boundary. Here you go again with another asinine effort to “ban” something, this time the teaching of an AP African American History course to be taught in Florida public high schools. 

Now if memory serves me correct, it was not that long ago when you got your  jollies off by banning books and – the absurdity of all absurdities – banning the word “gay.” There’s something pathological sick about your weird penchant for banning stuff. 

Continue reading Ron “The Banner” DeSantis! – by Terry Howard

The Audacity of Baby Steps and Hope! (Part 2) – by Leslie Nelson

“I take two steps forward, I take two steps back…”

The first line of those lyrics to the 1989 hit song, “Opposites Attract,” composed by Oliver Leiber and sung by Paula Abdul, swirled in my head as I thought about how to pick up from part one of this article series. If I apply those lyrics to matters of race, lack of racial progress in particular, what baby steps come to mind and what do two (or more) steps back look like?

Now for those of you that read it, Part 1 was about Phyllis and Eugene Unterschuetz’ RV journey across the nation, leading discussions about racial healing. That work culminated in their book, “Longing Stories in Racial Healing,” which they talked about during the November meeting of the 26 Tiny Paint Brushes writers’ guild. I ended part one with this challenge and question – “What should we, as individuals, consider doing next to further racial progress?” 

Continue reading The Audacity of Baby Steps and Hope! (Part 2) – by Leslie Nelson

Diversity and Equity Trends 2023 – by Marc Brenman

What we can anticipate and expect

The current Supreme Court will continue to whittle away at civil and human rights. Advocates will continue to sign petitions, march, and hold demonstrations, as if these activities would cause the federal judiciary to change its mind. They won’t. 

The US will continue to become more diverse, especially by Hispanics and Asian-Americans. More people will identify as multi-racial. The percent of African-Americans will continue to remain relatively constant. However, despite this, the diversity practitioner and CDO field will continue to be dominated by African-American women. 

The Chief Diversity Officer function will continue not to be represented at the executive team table along with other mission critical functions. 

Continue reading Diversity and Equity Trends 2023 – by Marc Brenman

DEI: What’s Old Is New Again – by Susan McCuistion

The last few years seem to have been challenging for many people, myself included. Last year, I had the privilege to take a bit of a sabbatical. Even though I found it difficult to fully pull myself away from my work, I was removed enough that when Deborah Levine, Editor in Chief for this publication, asked the Advisory Council members to write on upcoming trends, I felt a little out of touch. I decided I needed to catch up a bit, and I started my research. Much to my dismay, I felt like the more things changed, the more they remained the same. I wasn’t seeing much different than what colleagues and I talked about over 20 years ago. People were still focused on hiring and attraction and leadership development. Some spoke of developing business cases and strategies around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)—or whatever form it’s currently taking.

Frankly, I had hoped we had a lot of this figured out by now.

Continue reading DEI: What’s Old Is New Again – by Susan McCuistion

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Trends: 2023 – by Soumaya Khalifa

Whether you traveled or stayed home this past holiday season, you paid attention to the news about Southwest Airlines’ struggles to get  people where they wanted to go.  Bad (really bad) weather, canceled flights, long lines, lost luggage, and exhausted and cranky passengers and airline staff all led to an operational disaster that will take Southwest a while to overcome.  

In a statement on its website, Southwest called its own performance “unacceptable.”  Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said Southwest had not put adequate systems in place to manage operations during the storm. “The fact is: We weren’t prepared,” Murray said.

But some observers weren’t at all surprised: Southwest’s crisis was inevitable after years of prioritizing stock dividends and executive compensation over necessary investments, including improving its outdated IT and crew scheduling systems. Southwest’s own employees issued plenty of warnings about those.

Continue reading Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Trends: 2023 – by Soumaya Khalifa

Embracing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Dr. Nagwan Zahary

A Business Perspective

Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) becomes a business necessity rather than a choice. Organizations – including businesses, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities  have to reconsider that U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043 and by 2060, 57 percent of the U.S. population will consist of racially ethnic minorities.1 This change towards a more diverse population will have substantial impact on the workforce and how organizations rethink its processes to manage opportunities and challenges related to DE&I. 

In fact, there is no shortage of suggestions to create inclusive environments. However, it is crucial to think about the role and positioning of DE&I within an organization’s structure. The question here is whether organizations consider DE&I a HR policy, a management-led initiative, an objective, a trend—or a mixture of all four? Some organizations still struggle to properly define DE&I, which impact the development of appropriate DE&I initiatives to empower and engage underrepresented groups. Making progress on that front requires a deep understanding of the concerns, experiences, and perspectives of people with different ethnicities, nationalities, educational backgrounds, sexual orientation, religion, and gender.

To cultivate a more diverse and inclusive workplace, organizations should focus on DE&I as a  strategic business goal rather than a separate initiative or a HR policy. For example, it is not enough that organizations hire employees from different genders, generations, geographies and ethnicities and wait for the magic of DE&I to happen. Considering DE&I as strategic business goals requires specific and measurable actions to engage underrepresented employees within specific timelines. This should be followed by soliciting diverse employees’ inputs in planning and implementing DE&I programs, measuring and reporting outcomes, discussing failures and challenges, and providing solutions to sustain improvements in DE&I programs. Thus, DE&I as a business goal should be embedded in every department, operation, and orchestrated at the organizational levels. In so doing, organizations can achieve meaningful success in promoting, broadening, and maintaining culture of belonging and equitable structures that fully leverage the potential benefits of a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace. 

Furthermore, organizations’ decision-making processes to enhance DE&I as a strategic business goal should be driven by many questions including what DE&I means to internal and external stakeholders, what is the target audience of DE&I programs, what programs can best serve the target groups, and how to measure the impact of DE&I programs on the short and long terms. To answer these questions, organizations should focus on strategic tactics and less anecdotal evidence. Specifically, participatory approach and communication are two strategic tactics—over and above the impact of workplace environment as a whole—shape the degree of impact that DE&I programs exert on marginalized employees. Let’s discuss why these tactics can help organizational efforts transit from diversity towards equity and inclusion, with the ultimate goal to build better work environments instilled by human differences. 

The first tactic is participatory approach that focuses on reaching out and involving marginalized groups in decisions that affect their lives and communities. Crucially, participatory approaches are needed to help employees feel they belong to an inclusive environment where differences are welcomed and valued. Empowerment is a central concept in, and foundation principle of participatory approaches. It underscores the importance of providing a voice to those who have been overlooked for too long and enabling marginalized, diverse people to advance their concerns about DE&I without fear, and provide them opportunities to develop diverse, inclusive, and equitable initiatives. At the core of the concept of empowerment are concerted efforts to (a) improve the competencies of historically marginalized groups by providing them education and mentorship programs to advance their careers, accordingly, increase diversity in leadership positions, and (b) provide marginalized groups with the resources, support, and environment needed to be fully included in the decision-making processes that shape DE&I initiatives. 

The second tactic is effective communication driven by transparency and accountability to bridge the gap between leaders’ and employees’ perspectives about DE&I initiatives. The catch is a two-way communication to ensure that marginalized employees’ concerns and managerial priorities are in alignment. On one hand, managers should clearly communicate DE&I as an integral part of organizational planning linked to organizations’ successes in the marketplace. This requires managers to make a public commitment to enhance DE&I, and be held accountable for desired results. One important aspect of management led-communication is to report about DE&I initiatives by discussing with employees challenges in implementing DE&I programs. Reporting should be based transparency to ensure a thorough communication with underrepresented employees about ways to improve existing and future DE&I initiatives. At the organizational level, a diverse communication team can help increase marginalized employees’ engagement with DE&I through overcoming language and cultural barriers and representing different voices and experiences. On the other hand, employees should commit time and efforts to enhance DE&I by volunteering in diversity committee, participating in surveys to express their concerns, and providing suggestions to improve DE&I initiatives. 

 Needless to say, there are numerous DE&I initiatives to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplaces. What requires special attention, however, is to set specific metrics to measure the outcomes of DE&I programs to identify what needs improvement and celebrate best practices. Most importantly, organizations should provide training and education for both managers and employees to become more diversity competent and be cognizant of cultural sensitivity. For example, cultural sensitivity trainings can help managers and employees to be more self-aware of their own conscious and unconscious biases. Thus, organizations can require employees at all levels to take regular and mandatory sensitivity trainings to better understand how to coexist in a diverse environment.

The biggest takeaway is that organizations should not consider DE&I as initiatives to comply with government regulations. Organizations should ensure ongoing, open dialogues between managers and marginalized employees to establish a strong foundation for DE&I efforts.  Participatory approaches and effective communication should shape the conversation about DE&I. For leaders, the key message is that DE&I is an evolving journey rather than a static plan. It requires holistic strategies and continual commitment to ensure sustained progress to create inclusive workplaces. 

Reference

 https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb12-243.html

Threats to Affirmative Action and DEIA – by Marc Brenman

There is much confusion today between affirmative action, which is under threat by lawsuits in the U.S. Supreme Court, and Diversity, Equity Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA), which is under no such threat, as long as practitioners stay away from race-based quotas and preferences. How can we educate the field about this?

The Supreme Court cases involve allegations by some Asian-American groups that their applicants should be admitted to prestigious colleges like Harvard at a higher rate because other applicants like African-Americans are given a preference. One should bear in mind that Asian-American students are already enrolled in such colleges at a rate far exceeding their presence in the American population, so these cases are not about proportional representation, or a “student body that looks like America.” In some cases, such as the University of California at Berkeley, the undergraduate enrollment is about 48% Asian-American. So these cases involve an extreme form of a desire for merit-based judgments by gate holders.

Continue reading Threats to Affirmative Action and DEIA – by Marc Brenman

Diversity and Speech #33: Bi-Religious – by Carlos Cortés, Gary Cortés

Brotherly Perspectives on Religious Experiences

A co-authored Interview

Carlos: Last year I wrote a column about the tribulations of Growing up Bi-Religious in our religiously-mixed household in Kansas City, Missouri: Dad a Catholic with a Mexican immigrant father – Mom, a Reform Jew with a Ukrainian immigrant father and an Austrian immigrant mother.  I had to deal with family conflict and I avoided mentioning my religious background to parents when I picked up my dates.  But your experience was so different.
Continue reading Diversity and Speech #33: Bi-Religious – by Carlos Cortés, Gary Cortés

Hey Nancy, got a sec? – by Terry Howard

Here’s my question to the men who are about to read this piece: 

Based on what you know for sure, or have been fed by the media about her, if you were to find yourself seated next to Nancy Pelosi on a five-hour cross country plane ride and initiated the conversation, what would you talk about, avoid talking about and why?

So how about I give you, say, one minute to absorb and craft your answer to that question. Go ahead. No, wait, on second thought hold off on your answer until the end of this narrative.

Continue reading Hey Nancy, got a sec? – by Terry Howard