Getting crystal clear about your goals and intentions — personally as well as professionally — is the first critical step for diversity and inclusion (D&I) practitioners and champions to have positive impact and obtain powerful results. Once goals and intentions are clear, D&I change agents should take two more crucial steps:
Step 1: Go out and have an impact!
1. Always stay centered and grounded in your intention or goal. Advocate, take a stand, make decisions, show leadership, and demonstrate behaviors that reinforce progress in D&I based on costs, benefits and your organization’s unique, mission-critical DROI (diversity return on investment).
2. Be realistic and honest with yourself about the required foundation for success. For D&I to work and for you to have powerful, positive impacts, you must have:
- Leadership buy-in from the top, which goes beyond lip service to commitments in time, resources (human and budgetary), and meaningful action.
- Political and personal will from formal and informal leaders and stakeholders.
- A belief among leadership that change is possible, and within their power to co-create — an optimistic, proactive approach instead of reactive, apathetic, or victim mentality.
- A belief that change is not only possible but necessary (per the costs and benefits and your DROI).
- Courage and resources to endure the difficulties of change and the inevitable conflict and upheaval that will take place.
- A crisis (hopefully not, but this is often a key motivator). Be prepared if you think this is imminent!
3. Celebrate, even tiny successes and triumphs. Remember that it took women over 100 years to get the vote. Many of the women who demonstrated, went to jail and endured beatings for a basic right now taken for granted never got to vote themselves because they died before it became a reality. Realize this journey may be a marathon. Pace yourself. Stop every mile and do a victory end zone dance and have a piña colada, then keep running until the next mile or pit stop! Don’t just trudge on to some distant finish line, endlessly in agony, unwilling to appreciate small miracles.
4. Be prepared to walk away, and know when that is. Don’t sap your brilliance and precious energy on a losing battle. There is much work to be done. Don’t waste yourself on an impossible or untenable situation — you’re needed elsewhere! And maybe someone else is a better fit for the current reality. Be clear about where your line in the sand is and let it shift, but don’t cross it. Having a clear sense of self and integrity will keep you from compromising or diluting the goals of the initiative, which are more important that you are (another reason to make sure to do your “personal work”). Read Step 2 on Workforce Magazine!