What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and How Can It Be Used to Shape Real Conversations?

I did not want to be the black girl in the room discussing racism topics alone at work after the George Floyd murder, but I found myself doing exactly that. I was able to speak from an emotional standpoint but what I really wanted to do was provide a conscious conversation not solely on emotion. I wanted to give influential points of reference when it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as a whole. So I enrolled at the University of South Florida Muma (USFM) college and completed a 7 week course on DEI. I can still speak with passion however, I can now heighten the conversation providing emotional intelligence and open dialogue.

So, how do we work towards addressing (and eventually overcoming) our damaging internalized bias? It comes with confronting differing experiences and opening yourself up to the beauty of new narratives. In today’s competitive business environment, a diverse workforce proves to be a powerful advantage. Ignoring it can be both devastating and costly for companies who are attempting to grow with the times. It is critical to assemble (and retain) a workforce that is committed to furthering the company’s vision. Diverse organizations have proven to be more competent than their non-diverse counterparts in attracting quality talent, developing stronger relationships with customers and stakeholders, and increasing employee engagement and satisfaction. It is no secret that diversity is beneficial to company morale, but diversity alone is not enough to achieve these stark performance advantages. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a powerful trio that is essential in making employees feel valuable, thus correlating to higher productivity and innovation.

Unfortunately, in American society, we have created a taboo void that strays from addressing our differences. At NXT Level Consulting LLC, we believe that it is not a crime to acknowledge our differences, in fact, it is how you treat those differences that are of the greatest importance. Ignoring diversity diminishes the talent and richness that can stem from it. Our differences should be celebrated, not condemned. If we focus on mutual understanding and open ourselves up to new (and possibly uncomfortable) conversations and points of view, diversity offers opportunities for enlightenment and appreciation for the human experience.

While it is important to expand the dialog as to how intersectionality determines experience, it is also important to remember that it is not marginalized people’s duty to educate others on historical oppression, and that there are decades of pain and generational trauma that lay beneath the surface and it is not your place to bring that trauma forth whenever you are in need of an social ethics lesson. It is important that we show empathy take it upon ourselves to educate ourselves rather than allow irrational emotional standpoints and disdain for others to shape how we see the world. Embracing diversity opens up an entire world of possibilities that awaits. All you have to do is approach it with an open mind and willingness to learn.

Talking about racism is an emerging phenomenon in corporate America. We need open discussions and a genuine understanding of our colleagues’ experiences in the office and beyond in order to see a semblance of an equitably functioning society. Through good work that uplifts marginalized voices, we can actively work towards diminishing both our blind spots and the stereotypes that exist to divide us- so that together we can rise to the next level.

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