Corporations need a genuine commitment to creating equitable organizations and systems to move the needle on diversity and inclusion (D&I). Separately, they can help overcome challenges, but combined their impact is profound.

Despite public commitments and initiatives, corporations have not made a lasting change because of flaws in systems and policies. For example, the Rooney Rule failed to diversify the NFL’s leadership because of insufficient policy. It is because most corporate D&I policies seek to protect the organization, keep systemic inequality and have negative impacts on marginalized groups.

In her book “The Waymakers,” Tara Jay Frank said that if existing workplace systems are left to their own devices, they will operate the way they always have and advantage people they’ve always advantaged. The way forward is to establish a fair and consistent approach. In the Rooney Rule example, many organizations implemented diversity strategies with a checkbox approach that produced unintended negative consequences that spurred more lawsuits.

According to Frank, we need a culture shift from self-interest to interconnectedness. We can achieve this shift by combining activism, advocacy and allyship. Activism harnesses the energy of the collective to bring about awareness, advocacy raises the collective’s intensity within organizations and allyship lends vital support to that collection to help build momentum.

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