What does discrimination look like?
In the modern day, discrimination doesn’t have to be yelling racial slurs, having slaves or burning people with differences on a stake.
You can liken it to an ugly head with many faces. As a black woman living in the UK, I’ve experienced and seen others experience discrimination in several forms.
Here’s my story…
Growing up, society fed me the narrative that I and my white counterparts were not equals.
I had to work twice as hard and be extraordinary to achieve the same ordinary success my fellow white folks had.
The reality hit me especially when I watched my mum struggle to find a well paying job.
My mum enrolled in a university and got a tech related degree. It seems like better days were ahead because she could finally land a high paying job.
But apparently moving a camel through the eye of a needle would be easier….
Because It was–and is still–difficult for black women to break into the tech industry that is mostly populated by white males.
After countless interviews that ended the same, she had to pick low paying jobs as a waitress to make ends meet.
Being a mother of 5 kids myself, I can’t imagine a future where my kids have to deal with marginalization, fear and unfair treatment because of their skin colour.
My desire for a fair society inspired my decision to become a diversity and inclusion specialist.
Over the last few years, my career has taken me into the offices of CEOs who are inquisitive about how to implement DEI in their organization.
Today, I want to share with you 5 major and key lessons I’ve learnt since becoming a diversity and inclusion specialist.
- Diversity and inclusion is a journey:
In my experience, I’ve sat with CEO’s and HR’s of top businesses who actually think hiring people from different races or genders alone makes their business diverse and inclusive.
Businesses like this often have DEI as a box on a long checklist among several other goals for the year.
So it goes something like this
“Hire 2 Asians, 2 blacks and 2 women ” then tick the DEI box with a check. Mission accomplished.
And I can’t help but roll my eyes because these businesses only achieved a modern day Noah’s ark.
DEI goes beyond having a group of people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives being together.
It’s about creating an environment where all diversities are welcome to express themselves, free from discrimination and have their voices heard.
We can only achieve this by dropping our personal baggage like biases, stereotypes and prejudice. Continually renewing our perspectives and respecting the differences for a healthy work environment.
This can only be achieved by a deliberate effort and strategy everyday. That’s why DEI is more of a journey and not just a box in a checklist
- DEI needs to flow from the Top-Down:
Organizations serious about implementing DEI must have strong leaders at the top of the hierarchy actively promoting its importance to the employees.
The leaders create the roadmap and identify the how’s and why’s of achieving DEI in the organization.
Leaders are role models in the workplace and their actions or inactions influence the performance of the employees under their control.
A leader whose personality and actions proactively promotes DEI is more likely to influence other colleagues to flow suit.
Without leaders at the top upholding the values of DEI, the impact is greatly reduced.
- You can’t achieve diversity without Love, Acceptance and Respect:
At its core, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is built on love, acceptance and respect. Love for your fellow human being to get a fair treatment.
To have a smooth journey towards DEI, you must love, accept and respect those who you’re around.
Whether it’s your colleague, neighbour, classmates or whoever. You need to love, accept and respect those around you and see them as equals if you must achieve DEI.
Operating from a standpoint of love increases your tolerance and broadens your mind to alternate perspectives even if you disagree with them.
- A culture of gratitude in the workplace is a force to sustain inclusivity:
Without any doubt, we all love recognition for our achievements, inventions or contributions.
In the workplace, employee recognition is a strong force that fosters inclusivity. It encourages top performances from the employees and also goes a long way to retaining the high performing workers.
Recognition makes employees feel they are in a fair environment and feel their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.
Employee recognition can be in the form of monthly or yearly awards. But it could also just be a genuine thank you every now and then for work done aswell as acknowledging and referencing these contibutors to the success of the company.
Most employers don’t see the need to thank employees since they are only doing their job. However, the magic word “thank you” goes such a long way in motivating workers to keep going and even do more.
Building a culture of gratitude towards employees greatly fosters inclusivity.
- Diversity without inclusion is exclusion in disguise:
Having a diverse pool of talents doesn’t automatically guarantee profits or innovation. Your workplace must be tailored to bring out the best from them.
This is where inclusion comes into play. An inclusive workplace breeds trust and respect among colleagues and this increases employee productivity and a sense of wellbeing and belonging, This is the safe haven and when creative juices can truely work at its best!
My 5 Key lessons I have learnt as a diversity and inclusion specialist will help your business become diverse and inclusive.
If you want to learn more about DEI or know how to implement it in your business or workplace, I have a wealth of knowledge for you to benefit from on my social media pages.
P.S You can also buy my Diversity and Inclusion Unlocked Business Planner