Brianna White

Staff member
Jul 30, 2019
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are essential for fostering a positive and inclusive workplace. A diverse team brings varied perspectives, enhancing creative decision-making and bolstering employee morale, loyalty, and ethics. Research even suggests that DEI can positively impact a company's bottom line. Despite these benefits, many companies are scaling back on DEI initiatives, and new laws in some states are restricting efforts that support diverse hires and affirmative action as a whole.

Possible Reasons for the DEI Downturn​

Misunderstanding One reason for the slowdown in DEI initiatives is a fundamental misunderstanding of DEI goals. Some individuals perceive DEI as a threat to meritocracy, fearing that prioritizing diversity might compromise qualifications. However, DEI is about dismantling systemic barriers that prevent qualified individuals from fully participating and succeeding.

Resource Constraints Limited budgets often mean limited resources, which can hinder the implementation and sustainability of DEI initiatives. These initiatives can be seen as costly investments without immediate returns. However, the impact of DEI cannot be measured without proper metrics. Organizational leaders must be proactive rather than reactive to achieve desired results cost-effectively.

If you struggle in this area, consider defining your KPIs and metrics for DEI initiatives, such as representation metrics, retention rates, pay equity, or community engagement. Conduct projects with diverse groups and evaluate their performance. Calculate your ROI and assess whether the project was profitable or feasible.

Complexity and Challenges DEI issues are often complex and multifaceted, leading to uncomfortable conversations that some individuals may find daunting. However, these conversations are crucial for understanding and finding common ground. Pushing through discomfort can bring about meaningful change. Here are some key steps to facilitate these conversations:

  • Actively Listen: Listen to all participants without judgment or interruption.
  • Establish Ground Rules: Set clear ground rules to ensure respectful and constructive dialogue.
  • Create Safe Spaces: Ensure team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and experiences.
  • Commit to Action: Develop an action plan with clear steps to achieve the discussion's goals within a realistic timeline.

3 Ways to Stay the Course​

As a nonprofit leader, how can you continue to guide children of color and young adults to greatness when DEI initiatives are slowing down or disappearing altogether? It's an added pressure when children depend on you to show them a brighter future. Here are three strategies I am employing to stay the course:

  1. Strategize for Success: Develop a clear, actionable plan to keep DEI at the forefront of your organization's mission.
  2. Find the Right Partners: Collaborate with like-minded organizations and individuals who share your commitment to DEI.
  3. Prioritize Self-Care: Take care of yourself to ensure you have the energy and resilience to continue this important work.
Let's use this space to share our experiences, challenges, and strategies for sustaining DEI initiatives in our organizations. How are you navigating the current climate, and what steps are you taking to ensure progress?

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