DEI, as we know it, must DIE
Dr. Robin Martin, CEO of Navigating Courage, Inc.
As a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Leadership consultant, I’ve spent most of my career working on, fighting for, and researching how to advance gender and racial equity. And after more than 20 years, I am becoming increasingly concerned that corporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is on life support. Note how clarion calls for equity and equality are becoming muted. The street marchers of 2020 have gone back to their office cubicles as the demand for police reform and accountability weakens and wanes. Politicians using “dog whistle” phrases like Critical Race Theory, the 1619 project, and “woke” culture have many of us confused, bewildered and unstudied-- intentionally causing us to enter conversations and relationships blindly –- failing to see and connect with one another’s humanity. To some, then, this DEI work
remains stuck on the surface, a frivolous waste of time. But to others, this work remains a matter of life or death. I maintain that we need a new vision and approach for DEI-- one with courage and humanism at its core. This is the work we must do now. It is work rooted in community, liberation and care. More than that, it is a journey, a way of being with one another and with ourselves, that won’t end with a workshop or a new strategic plan. In order for us to live and think courageously, we must make time to ponder more questions, take the time to find better answers, then fight like hell for one another-- both inside and outside of the workplace.