Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have been the subject of many conversations over the past few months. We recently had the opportunity to speak with leaders from the Buffalo community and dig deeper into DEI: what it means, how it can be incorporated into the workplace, what the biases and barriers are, and how we can take action.
It is important to remember that with DEI, you cannot have one without the other two. Diversity, equity, and inclusion should be present and maintained in all aspects of life in order to progress forward, so stopping to assess how DEI fits in and plays (or could play) an active role in your workplace is imperative.
What are diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Ekua Mends-Aidoo, chief equity and inclusion officer at Evergreen Health, recommends keeping organizations top of mind when defining these words.
As Ekua explained:
- Diversity is a fact – either you have it within an organization or you do not.
- Inclusion is a choice. It is up to the organization to decide and choose how they want to include people and make them feel embraced.
- Equity is a policy that should become part of the organization’s practice. Equity is not It is about ensuring that people are getting the necessary and optimal resources that they need to achieve and succeed.
Incorporating DEI in the workplace.
Learning what these words mean is the first step, but organizations should be thinking about incorporating DEI in the workplace from the onset of the hiring process to onboarding and throughout career development. To maintain this mind-set and have DEI become a foundational part of your company, education is key. Whether it is a training series, a review of your company’s policies and structure, or a collaboration with groups and organizations to gain a better understanding of diversity issues, education introduces new conversations and poses questions for the future. These exercises may uncover certain biases that were never noticed before. But as was said by David Johnson, director of college counseling at Buffalo Prep, it is important that we are comfortable with being uncomfortable during the process in order to do the work that is necessary.
It is easy to stick with the status quo. Change can be difficult for everybody, and this work you are setting out to do can be challenging, but organizations cannot be afraid to have these conversations and seek out diversity. We need to be innovative and intentional with what we desire to do and how we are going to make that happen.
A special thank-you to our panel for taking the time to speak with us and for all that you do in our community:
- Lisa Napier, Founder and President of WNY Media House
- David Johnson, Director of College Counseling at Buffalo Prep
- Ekua Mends-Aidoo, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer at Evergreen Health
- Greg Addo, Director, Producer, Videographer, and Editor at Addo Productions