So Now What?
You’ve attended a workshop on diversity, equity and inclusion (which may have left you feeling all sorts of ways). I’ve had previous attendees leave fired up and ready to become social justice warriors; others told me point-blank they thought “diversity is stupid and none of it matters.” While I don’t expect everyone to jump all into the DEI realm, I do hope for the most part that after one of my presentations, participants at the very least are willing to consider some perspectives they’ve never considered before. If that’s you, you may be wondering what steps you can take to expand your knowledge. I’m so glad you asked!
Start with yourself and your family. What types of diverse identities do you encompass? What about your family members? Friends? I once talked to a woman who said she didn’t have any Black or LGBTQ+ friends. “How am I supposed to find them?” she asked. My answer, quite simply, is to widen your circles. For many people, this can be extremely uncomfortable at first. Some ways I recommend branching out include joining a local organization that focuses on diversity; becoming a member of your local NAACP; or volunteering with a nonprofit that serves specific marginalized communities. When we connect with people of different backgrounds, we’re often able to break down the preconceived ideas that regularly dehumanize and otherize them.
Take inventory at work. And, no, I don’t mean stock inventory. Take a look at your company’s demographic makeup. Do you have diversity at all levels throughout your organization? For women, and certainly Black and other women of color, the higher the echelon, the thinner their representation. Consider some of the barriers that have led to this outcome. What steps can your organization take to correct this? The 2020 pandemic disproportionately impacted women and minorities, so as we reset nationally and globally, there’s a lot of opportunity to implement strategies toward improving equity and inclusion in the workplace.
Check out some of the resources referenced here. In this PDF, I have what I like to call “Stacy’s Starter Kit to Social Justice.” This list doesn’t even put the tiniest dent into the surface of what’s available as far as DEI resources go, but it’s a great starting place. These books and documentaries cover just about every marginalized group, from race or gender to disability. Take some time to start learning about different human experiences.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable when starting on a journey into diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’re not going to change the world overnight, but incrementally and together, we can be catalysts for change.
Stacy Bernal is a change instigator, TEDx speaker, author, and coach at See Stacy Speak LLC. She is passionate about empowering individuals and organizations to live their biggest and most epic lives. Stacy is an outspoken advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion and representation and she’s known to challenge the status quo on occasion. She has been featured on HuffPost, Thrive Global, Chicago Now, Scary Mommy, Autism Parenting Magazine, and HER Magazine. She recently published her first book, The Things We Don’t Talk About: A Memoir of Hardships, Healing, and Hope.