Too often we look at Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts as individual efforts. We limit our “change commitment” to our top leaders sitting through a seminar, learning the language, while also frequently tiptoeing around those who are ambivalent to, or trying to change the minds and hearts of those who (silently or vocally) commit to derailing, our change efforts. We frame our efforts in places where they end the moment the wrong people get uncomfortable. We forget that embracing diversity, equity and inclusion necessitates real change, and change is rarely situated in places of absolute comfort.
Systemic approaches to DEI, or approaching DEI as “systemic change work,” means creating a workplace rooted in systems and processes that place outcomes as expectations, not as optional initiatives we hope sticks with each and every member of our team. They demand accountability, transparency, and commitment that goes beyond great sounding messaging with little (or no) actual action. Rather than spaces where those who seek to derail efforts can hide (or worse, thrive), systemic change work recognizes what (and, sometimes, who) stands in the way of meaningful progress, and gives you the framework to keep you moving in the right direction.