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Grounding Principles for Remote DE&I Strategies

“Remote work has a particularly unique opportunity to offer more diversity and have a more robust, diverse population… But it certainly in and of itself will not resolve diversity issues.” 

Jordyne Blaise, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategist with remote team experience, shared this sentiment during her guest speaker presentation for our December Networkplaceless event. The topic of discussion was, “Exploring Solutions to DE&I for Remote Teams”—admittedly, a lofty goal to accomplish in a 25 minute presentation. However, Jordyne provided us with a framework to establish solid DE&I strategies and challenged us as individuals to instill new habits with DE&I in mind.

Jordyne shared the following grounding principles. While DE&I strategies are not one-size-fits-all, these basic principles hold true regardless of the type of organization or current status of DE&I commitment and strategy development. 

  1. Achieving DE&I is both a personal and organizational (collective) commitment. The limited time spent at work is not enough to undo all the biases that are ingrained into our own behaviors nor to solve the truly complex challenges of diversity. As much as companies should be committing to the work, it’s just as important for individuals to set personal DE&I goals. 
  2. It's a lifelong personal and professional practice. Learning about DE&I takes time and an ongoing commitment. If you’re new to the discussions, start today by listening and learning, but it requires continuous learning.  
  3. The work should connect to a business development goal. The work encompasses every aspect of the organization. You can’t think of DE&I strategies and floating along separate from the strategies that are integral to the success of your business. 
  4. Comfort in the process is not guaranteed. As a society, discussions about race, gender, sexuality, disabilities, etc, are not comfortable. This work requires a level of discomfort to move forward.
  5. All diversity work is local and contextual. It matters both on a team and a company basis to understand the realities of each employee’s situation.

Using these principles as a foundation, it's important for organizations to take stock of where they are currently, what aspects of their organization are impacted by DE&I, and how they will hold themselves accountable. 

Jordyne emphasized the importance of data in showcasing progress and opportunities, but she also cautioned against listening to data at the expense of listening to the lived experiences of your employees. Even if the data shows a growth in the number of female employees, for example, company leaders and managers need to pay attention to and seek out the experiences of those individuals.

Additionally, Jordyne challenged us to reflect on how we root ourselves in DE&I work and how we bring that to the table within our organization. A couple of specific recommendations and challenges that stood out to us:

  • To decision-makers and those with social capital in an organization, ask the critical questions. If your organization says they’re committed to DE&I, how does that show up in your corporate structure? How does that show up in your leadership? How does that show up in your work? Giving voice to some of these questions and challenging the status quo can be uncomfortable. 
  • If you’re an individual contributor, when executing your daily work, make a habit of regularly asking yourself, “Have I used DE&I as a lens through which to view this approach?” 
  • Think about what information you are consuming within your daily life. This is a direct opportunity to incorporate diverse voices into your personal life. The direct examples Jordyne described saying to yourself, "If I’m in to Twitter, I’m going to follow three different folks on Twitter. If I’m into podcasts, I’m going to pick up a podcast and I’m going to learn about other people outside of myself.”
  • Recognize how your individual actions have a role within organizational change. When employees come to companies and say, “I don’t feel included. I don’t feel welcomed.” They are interacting with individuals, and the response to that employee shouldn’t be “did you read the D&I plan?” That’s not going to help them feel included nor welcomed. But you, as a person committed to this work, absolutely can.

Overall, our #1 takeaway: We. Can. Do. Better. And we are committed to doing so. Specifically, what are the actions Workplaceless is committed to and where have we already taken the next step?

  1. Communicated to our team that diversity, equity, and inclusion is a priority within our own team, but also for the learners within all of our programs.  
  2. Downloaded the Diversity & Inclusion Starter Kit from Culture Amp to get us started on establishing metrics and priorities.
  3. Created a safe space for communication about DE&I thoughts and learnings. We opened up a #DEI Slack channel to specifically share both experiences and resources. We’re working to challenge our own status quo. This is also where we share our small actions that will help us reach a larger goal—we like to call this our One Tiny Action or #onetinyaction
  4. Dedicated our culture meeting this week to our own DE&I—answering questions and brainstorming ideas for Workplaceless. 
  5. Established ownership and set a timeline to roll-out our DE&I strategy by Q2 2020.

Making substantial habit change is hard. We're leveraging the educational experience of our teammate, Katie Scheuer, to institute One Tiny Action (#onetinyaction) within our learning programs and within important conversations about remote work to break that change into achievable bites. 

We hope you’ll join us in sharing #onetinyaction you’re taking as either a personal or organizational commitment to DE&I. 

 

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