Tag Archives: diversity and inclusion

Defining, Practicing, and Protecting Dialogue in Higher Education – by Dr. Carlos E. Cortés

What role can faculty play in changing the national conversation about campus dialogue? 

That’s actually two questions in one.  First, what national conversation –- or conversations — are we talking about?  Second, what role -– or roles — can faculty play?  I’ll take these questions one at a time.  But first let me tell you where I’m coming from.

No, I’m not indulging in today’s identity politics.  I’m not positioning myself by race or sex or gender identity or religion or sexual orientation?  But I am going to play the age card.  At 89, that’s one of the few cards I’ve got left.  And it’s relevant to today’s discussion because age rhymes with experience, and three aspects of my personal journey inform what I’m going to say.

Continue reading Defining, Practicing, and Protecting Dialogue in Higher Education – by Dr. Carlos E. Cortés

Diversity Trends 2023 – by Dr. Gail Dawson

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Hosea 4:6

Throughout the years, the approach to dealing with “diversity problems” has included fundamental concepts, such as education, training, and communication. While the terms diversity training and diversity education are sometimes used interchangeably, others differentiate between the two terms. Diversity training involves providing people with skills and tactics to enable them to navigate a specific diverse environment while diversity education is more comprehensive and involves mindset shifts and frameworks that enable one to utilize broader knowledge to navigate various, complex environments. Communication also plays a key role in building awareness of similarities and differences as well as building respect and trust among people from diverse backgrounds. Together, diversity training, education, and communications have been regarded as essential in creating diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Continue reading Diversity Trends 2023 – by Dr. Gail Dawson

Diversity and Speech No. 29: Brain-Based Strategy For Making a Difference – by Carlos E. Cortés and Shannon Murphy

Carlos: Shannon, I must confess that your book, Neuroscience of Inclusion, has deeply affected the way that I view diversity.  Now it’s great to be working with you in workshops on brain-based approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

 Shannon: Agreed!  That has been a highlight of my path, getting to collaborate with talented and wonderful people like yourself.  The book was certainly a labor of love.  I wanted people understand that good intentions to be inclusive are not enough.  No matter how well intentioned one is, the brain can trip us up.  That’s why a brain-based approach to inclusion is so important.  

Carlos:  You are so right.  In diversity work, we need to continuously recognize the brain’s possibilities and limitations.   What do you think is the most fundamental brain idea that we need to be aware of?

Shannon: That when it comes to inclusion, the brain can work both for us and against us.  That idea is fundamental to everything else.  When diversity specialists and people they educate grasp this idea, they are better positioned to recognize not only the ways the brain works against us, but also how we can intentionally strengthen the brain to work for us.

Carlos: Shannon, you talk about BrainStates.   Could you briefly explain that concept?

 Shannon: Certainly.  We created the BrainStates Management model and associated social skills and strategies to help individuals increase awareness, which is critical in being inclusive.  That idea focuses on three neuroscience-based aspects of the brain: Perception; Self-Awareness; and Choice.  Each BrainState (Higher, Middle, and Lower) represents the interplay of three factors: thinking patterns; feeling patterns, and behavioral tendencies.

Carlos: So how does this apply to diversity?

Shannon: Our BrainState impacts our ability to be inclusive.  By learning to manage BrainStates, we can access higher levels of awareness, better hold multiple perspectives, and make intentional choices to behave in ways that are more inclusive.

Carlos: Does this process help us become more consistent in acting inclusively?

Shannon: Absolutely!  We can learn to override the brain’s base instincts and survival mechanisms to behave with kindness, care, and compassion.  By practicing these brain-based skills, we can actually rewire and strengthen the brain’s social circuitry.  For example, through a brain-based approach, diversity specialists can help people engage more readily across differences, even in situations that normally could create discomfort.

Carlos: Partly because of your insights, I’ve become more acutely aware of the importance of simultaneously understanding differences and recognizing commonalities.  A total emphasis on differences isolates people from each other.  A difference-blind emphasis on commonalities obscures the real and significant differences that make each person’s experiences unique.

Shannon: Definitely.  We need to consciously pay attention to both.  In as little as 200 milliseconds of seeing someone, the unconscious brain is already assessing them: like me/not like me; familiar/not familiar.  

Carlos: That quickly?

Shannon: Yes.  And in 50 milliseconds it is registering such things as their gender, culture, and race.   Because the brain never stops processing similarities and differences, it inevitably affects how we interact with others.  So when we focus consciously on similarities and differences, we can become more aware of how our unconscious brain has been dealing with them and can make better choices.  For example, learning to lean into and override discomfort or tempering a similarity bias. 

Carlos: One of the great pleasures of co-presenting with you is that we both believe that people can truly make a difference, bring about inclusivity, and move us toward greater equity.  You don’t trap yourself in “admiring the problem.”  You do something about it.

Shannon: Yes, that’s true.  I believe people can learn brain-based skills, develop tools, and use strategies for being more inclusive.  And through this process they can build and strengthen brain neuropathways that directly support people’s ability to be inclusive.  This is the crux of creating sustained behavior change.  Our choices today can shape an inclusive brain of tomorrow.  An awareness of these possibilities should give all diversity specialists hope that they can create positive change.

Carlos: Thanks, Shannon.  You always leave me feeling more hopeful.

Diversity and Speech No. 24: Curse of the Floating Signifiers – by Carlos E. Cortés

 It certainly would be easier if everybody used words the same way.  Clearer communication.  Fewer misunderstandings.  But no such luck.  Words mean what people make them mean.  And people make meaning differently.

Sociolinguists refer to the idea of floating signifiers: words that mean more than one thing.   For example, when one person says X meaning A, but another person hears X but understands it to mean B.   This constantly happens in diversity discussions.

Take the word justice.  Ask ten people what it means and you may get ten very different answers.  When people in one of my workshops or classrooms start talking about social justice and I ask them individually what they mean, I am likely to get as many different answers as there are people in the room.  Lots of virtue signaling; little clear communication.

Continue reading Diversity and Speech No. 24: Curse of the Floating Signifiers – by Carlos E. Cortés

How to Spot Performative Diversity – by Pearl Kasirye

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?

  1. D&I branding on their website
  2. Token POC people on their company photos
  3. Conveniently timed BLM or D&I social media posts
  4. 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:

  1. An inclusive recruitment process
  2. Diverse leaders
  3. Color-blind recruitment process
  4. Inclusive company policies
  5. 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.


Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Deepak Shukla Podcast: D&I in the PR Industry

DeepakDeepak Shukla is a British-Indian entrepreneur who founded the award-winning Pearl Lemon PR agency. He is a finalist for the International Diverse Role Model of the Year awarded by Diversity in Tech. This is in recognition of the groundbreaking work that he’s doing with his agency and international team to promote diversity and inclusion.

Deepak discusses:

  • How to develop an inclusive recruitment process that levels the playing field for people of different backgrounds.
  • How to manage employees in different parts of the world and a global clientele.
  • How to make diversity and inclusion a part of your company culture and not just a cute slogan on your website.

CLICK for Podcast Interview

Diversity and Speech Part 22: The Critical Race Theory Donnybrook – by Carlos E. Cortés

A year ago, who would have predicted that Critical Race Theory (CRT) would have become a 2021 national buzz word?  A buzz word for those attacking it.  A buzz word for those defending it.    Probably with relatively few of those attackers and defenders actually having read much of it.

I have, but it’s not easy going.  Lots of ideas.  Lots of jargon.  Lots of obscurantist legal analysis.  But if you stick with it, CRT can be very thought-provoking.

CRT is based on a simple premise: the law is not neutral.  As a result, institutions and systems that arise from the law will not be neutral.   When Mark Twain asked a friend to explain his position on a controversial issue, the friend answered, “I’m neutral.”  To which Twain responded, “Then whom are you neutral against?”

Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 22: The Critical Race Theory Donnybrook – by Carlos E. Cortés

Jorge Quezada Podcast – VP of Inclusive Diversity


Jorge Quezada is Vice President of Inclusive Diversity at Granite, a century-old construction company with a diverse portfolio of roads, tunnels, highways, and airports.

Jorge is an inclusionist who focuses on our full intersectionality. Jorge  helps people unleash their uniqueness by creating an inclusive environment where people have a voice; belong and regardless of age, they know they can contribute.  Going beyond the numbers to inspire and develop an inclusive mindset in the workforce is his mission.

CLICK for podcast

Jeremy Spake: DEIB Talent management solution provider

Jeremy SpakeJeremy Spake is a Principal on the Thought Leadership & Advisory Services team at Cornerstone OnDemand, a leading global SaaS-based talent management solution provider. In this capacity, he works to develop continuous performance management, data-driven compensation, and succession strategies to advise organizations on how to drive people theory into practice. Central to this work is providing guidance to embed talent management strategy with Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) initiatives for clients.  Spake has led pay equity initiatives, Employee Resource Groups, advocated for inclusive benefits offerings and regularly leads talent management strategy workshops for Cornerstone’s clients around the world. He lives in Seattle with his husband David and cat Oliver.

CLICK links to Resources discussed by Jeremy Spake: 

CLICK for podcast interview
with Jeremy Spake


Corporate Responses to Diversity Challenges – by Marc Brenman

In the aftermath of tragic police violence and subsequent street protests, many US corporations and other organizations have issued ritualistic and formulaic statements declaring their support for Black Lives Matter and decrying racism. What does this mean, and what will they do to follow through? Many of these companies already have diversity programs and are already required to comply with state and federal nondiscrimination laws and regulations. A number of states, cities, and counties have broader non-discrimination prohibitions than the federal government, for example, to include LGBTQ status.

The larger companies employ Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) or someone with a different title but similar responsibilities. The vast majority of people in these positions are African-American females. Some are male, and some are Hispanic. A few are white females. Almost none of the CDOs are members of the executive teams of these companies. Diversity does not occupy a place similar to core missions, such as production, operations, marketing/sales/ advertising/branding, finance, legal, logistics, supply chain, health and safety, etc. Only a relatively small percent of companies report their diversity demographics publicly, and almost none disaggregate the figures by level of employment, pay grade, responsibility, etc.

Continue reading Corporate Responses to Diversity Challenges – by Marc Brenman