Giving Compass' Take:

• Nicole Anand, writing for Stanford Social Innovation Review, discusses how checkbox diversity initiatives do not bring about effective DEI initiatives. 

• Anand makes three recommendations for how companies can begin to embrace meaningful DEI work. One of the suggestions is to design a process that works for marginalized employees and not only the organization. How can companies utilize employee input and opinions on DEI efforts?

• Read about how diversity, equity, and inclusion is the new advocacy. 

In the past few years, a race to the top regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in international civil society has brought about energetic collaboration and discussion. Popular DEI practices include a “no manels” pledge through which men honor a vow against participating in “all-male” conference panels, discussions of appointing women and people of color to boards of directors, and organizational strategies with goals of promoting marginalized persons into leadership positions.

Yet growing evidence indicates that international civil society organizations are using stale and superficial approaches to diversity, leaving them ambling along without meaningful alterations toward improvement.

Well-intentioned or not, international civil society’s emerging models for DEI are no different than those of other sectors in the past. Marginalized persons have become just that—a marginal identity, a homogeneous “checkbox” that fits anyone at justice's outer edge, turning the mission of greater equity into a to-do that perpetuates the status quo of the mainstream machine.

This shallow checkbox-style interpretation of identity is formed from minimal data that assumes deep meaning about a person's way of thinking and acting. It often manifests as quick fixes to codifying a group or population and making sense of their beliefs and behaviors.

For organizations to succeed at DEI, they must internally embrace people’s different approaches to problem-solving that are shaped by their unique lived experience.

But how? These three tactics are a start to guide the work of dismantling inequitable systems rather than chipping away at the periphery of the problem:

  • Embrace the complexity of diversity.
  • Design a process that works for marginalized persons, not only the organization.
  • Understand that the “challenge” is exactly what is desirable.

Read the full article about checkbox diversity by Nicole Anand at Stanford Social Innovation Review.