DEI Must Include EVERYONE’s Voice

What if DEI meant creating a place where everyone felt welcome, no one felt like the victim, and there was a strong sense of Belonging?

There is something fundamentally wrong with much of DEI (Diversity,

Equity and Inclusion) theory. The biggest flaw is the absence of the “B”

for Belonging.

Picture yourself at a DEI conference and sitting listening to a panel discussion. You

look at the panellists; they are all in their late twenties, early thirties and female.

Not a man at the table, nor anyone over forty and definitely not anyone deaf, blind

or with mobility issues.

They speak from a position of groupthink, expanding off of each other’s narrow

views of what is right and wrong and whose fault it is that we are where we are.

The audience nods in agreement, softball questions are asked and answered, and

everyone goes away feeling better about their alliance with the views of the panel

they just saw and models their own DEI policies and procedures accordingly.

Imagine how those who are not under forty, female and believe differently feel as

they leave this conference. Imagine how unheard, misunderstood and devalued they

must feel. This is because they now think they must be part of the cause. After all,

they certainly did not feel they were part of the solution.

What if we challenged that premise? What if DEI meant creating a place where

everyone felt welcome, no one felt like the victim, and there was a strong sense of


What if we as organizations stopped blaming the past and took the time to talk with

each other, instead of at each other, to create a new future based on what we would

all like it to be?

I believe that we all bleed the same color.

We must start treating people as different but equal, without preconceived

judgments about opinions, abilities or needs.

In short, we need to consider people as individuals. Some more qualified, some less,

but all worthy of being listened to, understood and valued. We may disagree with

them, but that does not make them wrong. It just means that they have different

views and opinions than we do. The aggregate of all ideas, thoughts and

beliefs makes us better collectively.

We should not marginalize those who act, think, or react differently than we do. By

doing so, all you are doing is shifting the power base and not creating a genuine

place where diversity, equity, inclusion or Belonging exists.

We should all succeed on our own merits, be celebrated for our skills, and not be

punished for who we are not.

DEI & B need to include everyone. We must create workplaces where

everyone feels they matter and their voices heard.

We need to build on cultures, not just look for cultural fit. We must ask, “How does

this new person bring perspective and ideas to the table we currently do not have?”

Only when we do and realize that all voices matter (young or old, gay or straight,

white or not, abled or not or anything else) will we have a chance to become a

relevant and vital organization that moves beyond being a commodity and instead

becomes one that people gravitate to and respect.

To do this takes leadership from all levels, effective communication, active listening

and the willingness for the organization and those within it to change.

None of this is easy. None of this happens immediately. However, when we do,

everyone’s voice is heard, leading to ideas being shared and acted upon that would

have never seen the light of day.

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