Embracing DEI As An Employee: What Should You Ask?

Like many complex topics, a discussion of DEI often raises more questions than answers. Figuring out the best ways to tackle diversity, inclusion and equity challenges in the workplace is a difficult task for senior leaders–for the average employee, talking to senior leadership about their DEI questions, concerns and challenges can be a daunting, even intimidating task. Here are three questions you can encourage your employees to ask themselves, each other and their managers about DEI.

Do I feel valued, respected and safe?

The company and the culture should make everyone feel safe and welcome. When DEI is not a visible priority, employees may not feel secure being their true selves at work. One of the key benefits of implementing a robust DEI training program, apart from what employees will take away from it, is that doing so sends a positive message that the organization is making a commitment to create and maintain an inclusive culture. Of course, launching a DEI program is just the beginning of the culture’s DEI journey–but it IS a beginning, and that can send a powerful message to employees.

How do I approach my manager with DEI concerns?

Uncomfortable conversations are always a part of everyone’s DEI journey. Approaching a manager – even for senior leaders in an organization – with DEI questions and concerns is never an easy task. Yet doing so is necessary. If you’re encouraging your teammates to initiate these conversations, congratulations – you’re taking a big step in creating an inclusive culture. But in order for those conversations to be meaningful and effective, leaders must embrace discomfort. They must understand that these conversations won’t be perfect, and that they themselves may feel vulnerable, or even have their own bias revealed. And that’s OK. One crucial element of DEI leadership is showing your vulnerability, and embracing the fact that we’re all on our own DEI journey. Engaging with each other in an open, honest and transparent way will encourage others to approach their leaders with their own DEI questions.

How can I be an ally to my peers?

Perhaps the best thing about being an ally in the workplace is that allyship transcends the employee hierarchy – everyone from an intern to the CEO can be an ally. After all, an ally is someone who supports, empowers and stands up for others. We should all be asking ourselves how we can best do this – because allyship isn’t anyone else’s responsibility but our own. The key component to being an ally is, first and foremost, to listen and learn. There is a relearning process involved in understanding all DEI issues, and embracing this is crucial for those truly interested in being an ally to their peers.

I’m Dr. Sangeeta Gupta, and I founded Gupta Consulting Group to help CDOs and HR leaders create and implement DEI programs that meet their organization’s unique needs.

Schedule a conversation with me today to learn more about our DEI solutions.

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