This “First Five Steps to Take as a DEI Leader” series explores how you can set yourself up for both short and long-term success by laying out the first five steps to take in your first 90 days of starting a new DEI role. So that you get off to a strong start, the top five areas we recommend you focus on during that time are:
In part two, we’re diving into the second and third areas, Find Allies and Champions, and Assess Where the Organization Is In Its DEI Journey.
DEI cannot be the work of one single person, or even a single team within an organization. So it’s important to identify who the key leaders, influencers, and team members are who you’ll want to partner with during your first few weeks on the job, and to start working on enlisting their support. When connecting with them, be sure to:
Working in the DEI space will require you to confront institutionalized and systemic racism in its many forms. These systems of privilege and oppression have been in place for a very long time. Reversing that trajectory can be challenging and making progress can take a long time but the rewards, and even the smallest accomplishments, are something to be celebrated.
While you may receive a warm welcome during your first month, be prepared to be met with resistance once the honeymoon period wears off. This usually occurs when you start digging into the root cause behind some of your organization’s most pressing DEI challenges, attempt to make changes in processes or policies, or press for increased accountability around behaviors and biases that shape how your organization (and individuals within it) operates.
Resistance to DEI work within an organization can show up as:
To mitigate and navigate resistance, be proactive about assessing where your organization is during those first 90 days. The first step in countering resistance is to understand what you are working with. By understanding where your organization is, and what has happened in this space historically, you can also identify potential root causes where resistance might stem from. Once we know why there is resistance, or where it comes from, we can be much more effective about tailoring the work, communications, interventions, and efforts accordingly. It will also help you set realistic expectations and goals for yourself and for your stakeholders, which helps prevent the burnout, disappointment, disillusionment and the emotional fatigue that often arises within DEI work.
To assess where your organization is on its DEI journey, consider:
As you analyze the data, look for trends and patterns. Also work towards uncovering any gaps in resources or supports. To maximize your impact, pinpoint any underlying needs or barriers that should be addressed through your efforts.
If your organization doesn’t have much data to begin with, then make collecting it a top priority for your first set of quarterly goals. Doing so will help you better understand where your organization is at and will help with benchmarking your organization’s progress later down the road.
Want to know when the next blog post in this series is released? Sign up for our newsletter!