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Managers need to refocus DEI

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has gotten a lot of press over the last few years, some good, some bad.  At this point, it is time to refocus what DEI means and what we truly want and need in our company culture.

Most managers would say diversity is a good thing, but we all have our own definitions as to what that even means.  I’ve worked with many managers over the years who are most comfortable with a team of like thinkers, even if they didn’t realize it. To me, diversity means the acceptance of change and different ways of thinking and doing. Equity and inclusion come into play when we welcome the changes, even when they put us out of our comfort zone.

Differences come in all forms: race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomics, ability, age, gender, to name a few varieties. It can be easy to bypass individuals with different characteristics, especially if they make us uncomfortable. Maybe we don’t understand their viewpoint or their capabilities.  But these “diversities” are what help us grow and compete as businesses.

Most organizations want to discuss how they stand out—what it is that makes them “diverse.”  Yet, when looking at employees, we gravitate towards those who respond in ways we understand and in ways we would respond/act.  It’s not easy moving away from things we inherently understand toward someone with different ideas/ways of doing things.  But that’s how we encourage growth.

Leaders should rethink what diversity means to them and their employees.  Focus on the opportunities afforded by new and different ways of doing things.  Seek opportunities to challenge your comfort zone and applaud efforts at doing things in new and unique ways.

This is how we should refocus our efforts in DEI.

Diverse group of employees talking.
Diverse group in an office setting.

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