Contributed by Shindale Seale, Ed.D., M.Ed.
As a cultural equity strategist, I work with various companies to build environments where all of their team members feel as though they belong, which, as you know, is vital to morale and productivity.
What I’ve seen is a great deal of uncertainty as to what diversity and equity and inclusion means, especially in the context of the workplace.
Over the course of the past year—and honestly for the entire history of the United States—we’ve suffered from a lack of this understanding. Because of this, whole groups of people have been denied the promises laid out in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Civl Rights Act, which was passed to mitigate the wrongs that groups have faced. This has led to a denial of education, of jobs, health care, home ownership and many other benefits solely based on the color of their skin, their gender, their sexual orientation, religion, age, or ability.
So, right now you must be saying…
I believe in equality and I believe everyone should have a fair shot at living the American dream, but I just don’t know what I can do. I might say the wrong thing, or, even worse, I might do the wrong thing.
Here are three quick tips to help you begin your journey to creating a more equitable and inclusive world.
1. Educate yourself
First, educate yourself on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion in the United States. It’s up to you to take ownership of this and there is a multitude of resources to assist you build your equity knowledge bank.
2. Unpack your biases
Next, you’ll certainly want to start unpacking your biases. We all have them. But this education that you’re working on from step one will guide you in recognizing the biases you have.
For instance, you’ll probably learn that just because a person has a certain skin tone doesn’t mean they’re genetically predisposed to acting in a particularly manner. Then, it’ll be on you to reflect, to figure out where those beliefs came from and how you can eradicate them from your mindset.
3. Put some skin in the game
Finally you want to put some skin in the game. Consider how you can be an ally, especially if you’re someone from a dominant group in society. How can you use your social capital to advocate for people who are less powerful. Look for ways that align with your personality and your abilities, and your station in life.
Remember, when people feel included and valued, their morale and productivity are higher. When the people in your social circles feel appreciated, as though they’re not being judged for being their true selves, relationships grow stronger and are much more meaningful.
The time to right these wrongs is now. Silence is delay and complicity.
By educating ourselves, checking our biases, and becoming an ally, we should be able to begin a remarkable journey to creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace and social circle.
Shindale Seale, Ed.D., M.Ed.
Cultural Equity Strategist
Founding Chair, Diversity Equity Inclusion Program, UCSC Silicon Valley Extension
• Moving Beyond Our History: Diversity Tools for Today
Continue your journey
We’ve all got biases. Discover yours and learn to empower your teams, your students, your community.