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3 Ways Leaders Can Step Into Accountability for Diversity and Inclusion

n the past year, I’ve often heard the word accountability attached to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Many leaders feel pressure to have an opinion on and speak to every issue in the news cycle. Employees — particularly colleagues of color, women and younger coworkers — are expecting their leaders to understand and address the challenges of social justice. They’re asking:

  • Where does the company stand on Black Lives Matter, and violence against people of Asian-Pacific Islander heritage, and opportunities for people indigenous to North America?
  • How will we address the ways patriarchy continues to limit the career development of women?
  • Do we have benefits for people undergoing a transition in their gender identity?
  • Where do we stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
  • Are we going to speak up about voting rights in Georgia? In Texas?

And then the next wave hits:

  • Some of my family members serve as police officers, or are members of the National Guard. What about their safety?
  • It doesn’t feel safe for me to be a Republican around here, or a Christian, or a white guy.
  • Aren’t we taking this DEI thing a bit too far? Let’s focus on getting the job done.

Add in the complexity around the risks and disparate impacts of Covid-19, vaccinations and mask use, and we’ve got quite the accountability storm.

Our relationships with our employees and peers are now pressurized like never before. For many of us — particularly those from advantaged backgrounds — it’s a shock. Some of us are muttering to ourselves: I’ve never been expected to lead through DEI like this before.

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