Fortune | Nicole Anand, a political economist and multi-disciplinary design strategist, acknowledged through her article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review that although a lot of discussions about diversity resulted to popular diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices, not much is happening yet.
She added that deeper issues are emerging and people are getting frustrated because there hasn’t been much progress.
Anand notes correctly that the move from what-to-do to why-isn’t-this-working is a painful step. She said that solutions to systemic issues like racial inequity often tackle symptoms, such as demographic representation, and overlook deeply rooted causes, from institutional discrimination to cultural bias and transgenerational trauma.
Anand also discussed “checkbox-style interpretations of identity,” which have been common in organizations looking for an emotionally tolerable diversity fix. So, the company might hire a black or Latino team member but do they feel like real and valued members of the team?
So, that strategy is often doomed. When the “diversity hire” doesn’t work out, it’s because of bad culture fit, didn’t meet expectations or other standard excuses. Sometimes the person just quits and “willfully leaves the job due to the stress of dealing with one of the most commonly felt flaws of checkbox diversity: its prompting of questions about tokenism.”
The problems are amplified in global businesses or organizations that automatically follow Western management theories.
Anand offers a re-framing. “For organizations to succeed at DEI, they must internally embrace people’s different approaches to problem-solving that are shaped by their unique lived experience,” she says. This is a process that will take practice, ego-reduction, listening and most of all, a willingness to re-think power.
To some employees, people with “different ideas” are often annoying. While some ideas deserve to die immediately, others can be salvaged for parts. But talking things through with an eye toward unconventional action seems like a good practice in itself. Even if an idea ends up in intellectual hospice, the very process would stoke curiosity, empathy, equity, and boldness. It might even impact the company’s bottom line.