This is Becoming Inclusive from The Kaleidoscope Group, where we’re thinking differently about diversity, equity, and inclusion. For more empowered people at work. We’re committed to real change and that begins with real conversations. Welcome in.
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Diversity and Inclusion are readily understood by most people around the globe. These terms are generally not too difficult to grasp as a smart business approach or as the “right thing to do.” However, in the U.S. the term “equity” is a bit more challenging as people wonder what it means and how it applies. This confusion is even more confusing abroad. Why is that? And is it helping or hurting?
Becoming Inclusive hosts Kat Potts and Reggie Ponder asked these thorny questions in an episode of the podcast, featuring Jerry Jones, Global Director of Design and Development for the Kaleidoscope Group. The overarching question the three tried to address is if DEI, in its current state, is too focused on the U.S. and do we too easily default to our narratives while being dismissive of others.
No “American Exceptionalism” in DEI
According to Jones, the important thing for people to consider when talking about DEI is that it’s more than just a solid business priority. We know that diversity and inclusion are proven to drive innovation and greater profits—when done right. That much is true, but we also have to connect with the “heart,” Jones says, to fully appreciate the different cultures, value systems, histories, and geopolitical realities that other people may experience that aren’t similar to those in the U.S. and vice-versa.
Jones makes a great point. An example provided by Ponder looked at the George Floyd phenomenon and the global reaction that it stoked. More than 60 countries worldwide held protests about the incident—not because they were that familiar with U.S. politics or culture—but because people could relate to it in human terms, such as unequal power dynamics, class disparities, and universal injustice. The tragedy heightened awareness and drove a great deal of discussion and action in boardrooms and C-Suites around the world, and especially within multinational companies.
However, it’s very important to remember that every country has a different narrative that may not fit into the U.S. narrative on majority/minority dynamics or power structures. So any one size fits all approach to DEI is simply no effective. For instance, when it comes to the term “race,” it has a very nuanced connotation in parts of Europe, largely because of the events of WWII and the Holocaust. Is it a bad term? Not at all. But it does have a very different impact on people when they hear it—especially generationally since some older people may think of pogroms or other horrors experienced during the war. In fact, in some European countries, collecting data on race or ethnicity is illegal.
Expanding the Conversation
As DEI professionals and their clients continue to evolve the conversation and ideate new strategies for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’s imperative that we listen to each other intentionally without trying to contextualize it based on our home country’s values and beliefs. When we champion diversity and inclusion we’re broadening the conversation to include more voices, experiences, and solutions. To do otherwise is contrary to our very purpose and a threat to the achievement of our business and societal goals as we try to create a more inclusive and equitable world for everyone. It’s smart business and it’s also the right thing to do.
Thanks for joining us, and a special thanks to our subscribers. Consider becoming one today. Becoming Inclusive is presented by The Kaleidoscope Group, your full-service Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion partner serving clients worldwide. Learn more and continue the conversation and kgdiversity.com