Updated: Oct 19, 2021
By Tara Duke
Becoming an organization that intentionally acts to build trust and relationships with people who have historically been marginalized because of their race, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background, must start with embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Organizations can affirm their commitment as authentic partners to marginalized populations by incorporating DEI into their own work culture. DEI needs are recognized as crucial to organizational success; research indicates that organizations with strong DEI values and practices have more engaged and happier employees who perform better. Additional research has found that diverse teams are more innovative and make better decisions. Recognizing a need for expert consultants to implement these strategies, Gordian Knot Society has partnered with Cornerstone Diversity to support organizations that have prioritized DEI goals.
Cornerstone Diversity is already working with a national non-profit that protects at-risk kids who are victims of violence, identifying several areas with DEI needs. Most of the clients served by this agency are Black and Latino youths, while the staff tends to skew towards middle-aged, White women. Acknowledging that there may be unconscious racial bias, the team needs training to be appropriately responsive and supportive; they want to meet the kids where they are, without adding to their discomfort. The organization also seeks to engage with its human resources team to attract staff that reflects its clients' diversity more closely, creating a safe place where all staff feel welcome and included.
Gender bias is also something that may need addressing. This type of work attracts those who have a heart for helping abused children, and women tend to be a majority in this field. However, while this particular organization has employed male staff members, the turn-over for male staff is much higher than for female staff. What factors are in play that results in the departure of male staff? What changes must be made to attract and retain them?
Cornerstone Diversity has the privilege of working with the Chicago location of this organization. We have observed that while its staff includes both Black and White women, Latinos and Asians are noticeably underrepresented. The racial diversity of staff is almost non-existent in other locations across the nation. A diverse team that reflects inclusivity is essential for engaging with the communities served in a meaningful and authentic way. Disparities are driven by systemic inequities that can significantly influence the outcomes of people's lives; therefore, it's imperative to build the core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion into operations that model these values.
These organizations' roles are often stressful, and it takes an emotional toll on staff. Asking these caring individuals to dig deeper and address areas that may cause them discomfort is not easy. Discussions on race and equity can be sensitive, and it may be harder for staff due to the emotional tax their job already takes. However, the reasons we love working with this organization far outweigh the challenges. We have noticed that these caring people are quick to see how their behavior may affect others, and they have a willingness to address it immediately. The Chicago chapter has an inspirational leader whose heart knows no limits for these kids and those that work with them. This organization understands that if they fail to address DEI issues adequately, it will negatively affect the kids they are there to help, and to them, that is unacceptable. They want more than a one-time workshop; they are willing to commit to long-term work for lasting change.
Many organizations are beginning to focus on engagements to support their position as an ally. DEI is not just "the new in-thing," as it may affect future standing and reputation if left unaddressed. The Gordian Knot Society, with Cornerstone Diversity, can lead the way to incorporate DEI in a meaningful and responsible manner. We will help shape your organizations' futures by dismantling outdated practices that have become systemic in their space and replacing them with more than just new policies and procedures. We will help build new values from the ground up, with inclusive processes that incorporate everyone's perspectives. We believe that by making DEI a priority, every aspect of an organization will benefit.
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