Future of Diversity and Inclusion Work-prologue

What is diversity and inclusion work and who does it?

This is maybe a good question to begin this series with and here is my vague and rambling answer.  There are a lot of things involved in diversity and inclusion work and there are a lot of different people contributing to it in one way or another.  Obviously, D&I work includes those that are in formal organizational roles specific to diversity work: VP/Director/Manager of D&I, D&I recruiter/trainer/coach, etc.  There are also Human Resources, Organizational Development and Training and Development folks that are very committed to integrating a deep understanding of diversity and inclusion principles into their work, even if they do not use those specific words…I think that they are the exception to the rule, but that is simply my perspective.

There are also some managers and executive leaders that do this as well, but again I would say that they are the exception to the rule.  There are also legislators, authors, artists, educators, clergy, attorneys, and others for whom diversity and inclusion is always a part of their work and it sometimes shows up in the form of advocacy, social justice work or community organizing.

And with a lot of different folks involved in this work, it takes many different forms.  There are traditional organizational efforts such as D&I training programs, diversity recruiting, employee resource groups, vendor diversity, multicultural marketing, etc.  There is also what I refer to as “stealth diversity work,” which consists of mentoring programs, coaching, leadership development programs, employee engagement efforts and other initiatives that are built on a real understanding of diversity and inclusion and the associated value.  There are also efforts to simply celebrate difference, encourage self expression, connection and collaboration.  One post is not going to capture all of the ways in which diversity and inclusion work can be done, but we can at least identify some core characteristics of what diversity and inclusion work are about…so here is my list:

  • diffusion of power
  • distributed leadership
  • removal of barriers to difference
  • pursuit of value or benefit (individual or organizational) related to diversity and inclusion
  • creating and supporting authentic and balanced connections / relationships
  • increasing the shared capacity for learning and creating

I think that diversity and inclusion work includes one or more of these goals or objectives, though I am probably missing something and would love to have your help in completing this list.

Stay tuned as I continue to consider the future of diversity and inclusion work, with posts on these topics:

  1. social media
  2. new understanding of human nature / human behavior
  3. relational competencies
  4. new way of work
  5. new way of leadership
  6. language & logic
  7. diffusion of involvement and leadership
  8. next generation of practitioners
  9. advocacy & activism

Also, be sure to visit on Monday, for a guest post from Maddie Grant and Lindy Dreyer, authors of Open Community.  Have a good weekend.

Be good to each other.

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  3. iamronen

    Hello Joe,

    I am assuming that it will not come as a surprise to you that I believe that the individual needs more space on the table then the social. I believe western life is flooded by the social to the extent that individuals as pillers are weakened – and for social to re-invent itself – individuals need to be given a chance to become better and stronger.

    Here you may find an interesting reflection of power on a personal level: http://iamronen.com/2009/04/energy-quality-not-quantity/

    I also contemplated a while back on how personal qualities effect our ability to support and contain leadership: http://iamronen.com/2009/03/leadership/

    We’ve interacted at length about differences … so I won’t open that up again.

    The idea of individual freedom was big before the industrial revolution. Then social took over – and individual has been pretty dormant ever since. The industrial age has left us with mediocre-at-best social structures and individual dormancy. I think we have to wake up and re-become on a personal level before we can play together – otherwise we’ll be shuffling around social mediocrity hoping it comes together in a better way.

    All Things Good

    p.s. – thank you for the too kind and generous words on twitter.

  4. James S. Walker

    Hi Joe,

    Glad that I came across your blog. I have been exploring this topic (specifically the social media connection) with the Socially Diverse project. Look forward to reading future posts on the topic with this and social media.


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