How did we get here?
At the start of 2020, the world began adjusting to functioning as best we could in a pandemic. For many companies, that meant downsizing staff and adjusting to the”new normal’ of working from home. However, by the summer of that year, the world also witnessed the murders of three more Black people at the hands of law enforcement. This created a seismic shift in diversity, equity, and inclusion. ‘At the start of 2020, the world began adjusting to functioning as best we could in a pandemic. For many companies, that meant downsizing staff and adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of working from home. However, by the summer of that year, the world also witnessed the murders of three more Black people at the hands of law enforcement. This created a seismic shift in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“What was often check-the-box window dressing to attract potential employees was no longer that. Black employees began speaking up about how their Black livesdidn’tt matter within the same companies that performatively changed their social media boxes to black in… solidarity. At the same time, companies realized that they had laid off their diversity, equity, and inclusion team. What was a “nice to have” was now a critical aspect of their business. The hiring of DEI professionals skyrocketed.
The Transition of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
I was working in an organization where I was subjected to mistreatment and discrimination by the head of DEI, who proudly shared with everyone she got the job but had never done DEI work before. I noticed how common that was becoming. Organizations did not understand the skill sets required to manage DEI efforts, not the damage that having unqualified people in those roles could have on their already marginalized employees.
Throughout my career, I have had some aspects of my work touch on diversity, equity, and inclusion. From managing a summer program for Black and Latine elementary and middle school students in college to developing an international grant program for underrepresented technologists in my last corporate role – I have earned my place as a practitioner. But with the increased need for DEI professionals came the increased number of practitioners of passion. They were passionate about the work of DEI but had very little self-reflective, lived, or formal education in diversity, equity, or inclusion.
In this episode of DEI After 5, I chat with consultant Ashanti Bentil-Dhue to discuss the movement toward standards and structure across the DEI industry, the need to move from education to transformation, and ethics in DEI.
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