On the Future of Diversity and Inclusion Work

I am anxious about the future.

I have very real concerns about whether D&I work is evolving in the ways that it needs to and at the rate that we need it to.  I think that diversity and inclusion continue to be the most misunderstood issues in the world of business, organizational, community and individual success today.  I think that this work tends to be seen as not relevant, not applicable, or not valuable by most, even by most in human resources work which is supposed to be our one true ally.

A lot of what I hear said about D&I today, a lot of what I read and a lot of what I see on conference agendas is based on a 20th century paradigm of diversity and inclusion, as well as a 20th century paradigm of business.  Not just by HR folks or business leaders, but also by D&I practitioners.  Problem number one is us.

Somewhere along the way we got stuck.

Somewhere along the way we got comfortable.

Somewhere along the way we realized that we had something to lose and we started talking about what was realistic and feasible.  I have no time for or interest in what is realistic and feasible…that is driving by the rear view mirror.  That is what metrics and metric managers are for.  We are warriors and truth tellers and our calling is different.

Somewhere along the way the revolution got put on the payroll and that is where revolutions go to die quiet and irrelevant deaths.

It is time for a resurrection.

This work that we do is relevant and actionable and valuable…this work that we do is part of the reinvention of how we do work, how we create value, how we do community and we craft the future.  This is THE BIG WORK of 21st century…those other fools just don’t know it yet.

I started considering the future of this work in a recent post and identified seven conversations that are critical to the future of D&I work, conversations that we need to be aggressively engaged in:

  • social media
  • human behavior / human nature
  • relational competencies / conflict management
  • new way of work
  • new way of leadership
  • language, logic, multi-dimensionality
  • diffusion of involvement and leadership

And, thanks to some really good feedback from readers I have also added two more issues to this list

  • next generation of practitioners
  • advocacy/activism

I am planning on doing a post on each of these topics and this series will probably stretch out over the next few weeks.  I welcome your feedback on this topic whether you agree or disagree, whether you are a traditional D&I practitioner, blogger, HR leader, teacher, manager or simply have an opinion.

On the topic of the future of this work, I want to remind you to put a couple of dates on your calendar.  You need to help us architect the future.

April 1-2, 2011 Diversity and Inclusion Unconference || Omaha, NE

October 24-26, 2011 SHRM Diversity and Inclusion Conference || Washington, D.C.

Be good to each other.

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