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Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matter

Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matter

by Mary Clymer on February 2, 2021

Join the Community Conversation
February 18th, 4-5:30pm

The days of shying away from difficult conversations in the workplace have passed. In today's modern world we are being confronted with uncomfortable and sometimes very obvious bias all around us and it’s high time we address these issues head on. 

In the past a discussion about diversity in the workplace might be met with some fast notes about what the hiring process looks like. Today the idea of inclusion and belonging in the culture of a workplace is not so easily passed. 

An open dialog needs to take place if we’re ever going to dismantle a racist system. Those who thought they weren’t directly affected are seeing the ugly underbelly of these toxic work cultures brought to light and it often leads to difficult self reflection. 

This is a good thing. If we aren’t uncomfortable then we aren’t growing. Facing the issues is the only way to find solutions to them. 

We all must care enough to be proactive in creating equal and unified opportunities so we might all rise together. 

 

It’s become obvious how unaware many people are about their privileges. Things so natural to their environment that it’s hard to see past the only experience they know. Now being asked to change is hard because many saw nothing wrong with how it was working before. 

This takes empathy, understanding, leadership. 

 

 

“DEI work is a moral imperative to achieve our democratic mission and a just society and fully realize the potential of our community. I believe we have a responsibility to work to dismantle systemic racism that limits and excludes. And for our businesses to thrive, it is crucial to create a business ecosystem that is just, and serves economic mobility and a growing economy by developing talent and serving those who have been excluded.” 

-Kevin McCarthy President of Renton Technical College. 

We all have unconscious narratives rolling around in our heads that are hard to break. The more we talk openly about these issues the faster we can work through them. 

We have gone too long saying things like.

  • That’s just the way it is

  • That’s not my problem

  • It’s not that bad

  • What am I supposed to do about it

The struggle is to get people to care about the issues that don’t affect them. To get people to understand that if one person is falling behind and being cheated, then we all are. 

We need to get uncomfortable speaking up about injustices in the workplace. We need a diverse group of opinions and life experience to enrich the work experience. 

We cannot get there without a safe space to have open discussions. 

Too many people are so worried about saying the wrong thing and being labelled as sexist, racist, ageist, etc. and it’s understandable because we see people being drug through the mud for one wrong action or word all the time.

That is why I love these community conversations. Benita Horn, the Inclusion & Equity Consultant for the City of Renton. Her welcoming spirit sends a message that comes through to create a safe space for an open conversation about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

 

If you missed any of the last three discussions I encourage you to head over to youtube and check them out. The conversation is heart felt and comes to us from a variety of viewpoints. 

There is nothing uncomfortable about the openness of these leaders. They all welcome conversation helping us all to learn so that we might grow a deeper understanding of another's perspective. 

The George Floyd tragedy and other similar national events brought this more to light this past year, and Bernie O’Donnell, President of Rock Project Management here in Renton, felt they needed to do something as a business.  

“Mostly, I believe, as well as all our employees, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is the right human thing to do to address systemic, institutional racism that quite frankly has been allowed to continue and fester”, Say’s O’Donnell, “Tolerating and not doing anything simply was unacceptable.  We wrote a commitment to equity and justice as a starting point to move our team into action.”

He is one example of many here in Renton who are doing their part to show leadership in addressing these issues. 


“Businesses need tools to help them.”He told me,“Basic talking points and action items. A roadmap and these conversations help in that manner. It’s a safe place to come up to speed with what the issues are and what we can do to better address.”

 

Join Bernie O’Donnell, Benita Horn, Preeti Shridhar, Deputy Administrator of Public Affairs for the City of Renton, and other leaders in this safe online forum. 

The next Community Conversation will be held February 18th from 4:00-5:30pm through the Renton Chamber of Commerce facebook page. Check back for details and find out how you can be a part of that conversation. 

 

You’ll see from the past events (available to view on YouTube) that this full hour of discussion offers many viewpoints. They’re usually isn’t a lot of time for questions at the end so please submit questions or comments to the Renton Chamber. They will be sure to pass those along to the group to ensure all have a seat at the table. 

Questions to ask about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Think your workplace could use a little help navigating these difficult questions. Start by asking some basic questions to see if you’re on track. 

  • How diverse is the board, or executive team?

  • How diverse is the management team?

  • What kind of leadership training does your company offer?

  • What does the evaluation process look like? 

  • Who does the promoting and what is that process look like?

  • How is open communication fostered? 

  • How do you celebrate diversity of people and ideas?

  • How does your company seek out a diverse workforce? 

  • What does your recruitment look like?

  • What’s the company's stance on the BLM movement?

  • Does the company have DEI goals?

Think long and hard on these questions. Whether or not you have the power to drive the direction of your workplace it’s important to note where your leadership is at. If you question whether or not your place of business has addressed any of these issues, have the courage to bring them up. Odds are somebody is already thinking about how to address them and you might be the needed voice of change they are looking for.

We are lucky to live in a diverse and culturally accepting area of the world. We have a lot of work to do and the only way we can do it is together. I lift you and you lift me. 

 

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