Before delving deeper into the topic of starting a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative in your organization, I want to set some important context as background.

As a highly privileged white male, for most of my life I was able to turn a blind eye to what DEI truly meant. Growing up in a rural, homogeneous environment, I hadn’t had a true understanding of it, until 16 years ago I met my wife, who is of South Indian descent. Our relationship helped me to gain not only an understanding, but also develop a sense of urgency to be a part of the solution.

Fast forward through my career, as an executive switching jobs at the height of the pandemic in 2020 and on the heels of the murder of George Floyd, I found an organization at a crossroads looking for direction on how to move DEI forward among staff, volunteer leadership and even the profession we represent.

In 2020, organizations that hadn’t had existing DEI programs sprung into action—some truly embracing change and others simply paying lip service to the change.

I offer this background because a pivotal part to starting a DEI program in your own organization is self-awareness and transparency. DEI isn’t a fad, a quick one-and-done corporate initiative or a box to be checked. It’s a culture shift that must be planted and nurtured over time.

The logical question, is how to start. And the initial answer to this is building awareness of the need for DEI in your organization. In our case, I had a wonderful colleague, Chris Busky, the CEO from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, come and present to our board on their own journey. We provided educational sessions to our board and gathered feedback from our staff to help create a compelling business case for why we needed to move a DEI program forward. However, that was just the very beginning.

Read the full article about starting a DEI program by Devin Jopp at Forbes.