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Staying the Course in 2024

Whenever a new year comes around, I see it as a chance to catch my breath. Usually, I have been going full speed ahead - so busy crossing things off a long to-do list that I realize I often forget to look up and make sure that I am actually heading in the direction I want to go.


The New Year is a reminder to recalibrate my bearings and to ask myself: 

 

  • Where am I on this journey?

  • What impact do I want to have?

  • How do I focus my energy?

  • What do I let go of?

  • Am I feeling depleted or enriched by last year’s choices?

  • How do I get re-energized in the face of external forces working against DEI?

 

Last month I wrote about the impact of world events on DEI including economic pressures resulting in a declining commitment to DEI, threatening the progress we have made. I also wrote about identity politics and backlash against what is seen as a “woke” agenda, that are working to diminish the DEI progress we have made not only in the US but globally. And I wrote about the rise in hate crimes against LGBTQ communities, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities. This year has seen a massive increase in Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crimes globally as the conflict between Israel and Hamas rages.


It is almost certain that many of these geo-political, economic and societal trends will continue into 2024, making it even more imperative that we figure out a way to focus our energy, stay the course and have an impact. We cannot afford not to!


Having an impact does not mean pursuing the next flashy new initiative. It does not mean launching a series of activities. It does not mean staying busy with the flavor of the month initiative during the day and galas in the evening.


What it does mean is drilling down and deepening our impact. It means going back to basics. It means continuing to demonstrate the impact of DEI on business outcomes. It means partnering across the organization to add value to the business and get buy in. It means taking a holistic approach and embedding DEI in all of an organization’s systems and processes. And it means selecting to focus on those efforts that will have the greatest impact and demonstrating the impact of DEI with metrics as well as stories. This takes skillful strategic influencing, it takes tenacity, resilience and patience. And I know we are up to the challenge!


In the new year let’s look to CREATE, COLLABORATE, CULTIVATE, AND CELEBRATE DEI

 

Create more intentional work plans



Resistance to DEI exists internally and from external sources, and often DEI practitioners are in the crosshairs. They are tired and they are depleted. The US Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling decreeing that race could no longer be considered in admissions in higher education was a big set back for DEI. It not only struck a blow to diversity in higher education and to the pipeline of diverse talent into the workplace, but it is also creating a ripple of anxiety that reaches far beyond the education sector with corporations concerned about possible litigation should they pursue their DEI efforts.


Treat this as an opportunity to take a hard look at your DEI approaches.  Make sure you are being holistic- addressing all diversity, approaching the entire ecosystem and taking a systems approach. Our work is about equal access – it has never been about equal outcomes.  As such, it is an opportunity to use data to scrutinize the talent lifecycle and with that understanding to implement initiatives to remove bias for all employees.


As we enter 2024, this is the moment to take stock and prioritize. This means we may need to let go of some things in order to focus in on others. We need to evaluate the impact of our efforts. What is working? What is not? What has the greatest impact on the organization’s mission and business outcomes? How do I demonstrate the impact through metrics and stories? The more focused, specific, intentional and informed our DEI strategies are, the more impactful and rewarding they can be.  And when others see the impact, they are faster to come on board and hopefully to provide resources to support us. Shift your energy and focus on those things that have the greatest impact.

 

Collaborate across the organization and find allies


You cannot do this on your own and need allies across the organization- ERG leaders and DEI champions, Council members, mentors and mentees- who can help enroll the organization in your DEI vision. Partner with leaders who will embed DEI in their work processes. Use your energy wisely to influence leaders by demonstrating the impact on the business, with data but also sharing lived experiences.


Influence your leaders to speak out because now, more than ever, the world needs leaders to step up and take bold stands- to stand up publicly for their values, and to lead the way. We need to recognize that what we say- or choose not to say- out in the world impacts our employees: it affects how safe they feel at work, their sense of belonging, their engagement and their loyalty to their organization.

 

Cultivate a community of support


Identify allies within the organization as well as outside, who understand what nourishes you. They will help you find meaning in your work and celebrate successes with you.  I have found that my community of support also helps me take care of my body and spirit, as well as  helps me set boundaries. They are my sounding board. When I question myself, they remind me to trust myself.

 

Celebrate successes


Recognize and give credit to allies, be they teams or individuals, who have had an impact and celebrate each win, however big or small. This is an important part of taking stock. Communicate out these successes along with progress- but do so with humility.

 

As we step into 2024, after a tough year for DEI, I am doing my own reflecting on what lights me up, what I am going to let go of, and where I want to push myself to grow. In 2023 I launched free live webinars where I was joined by global DEI leaders. The global attendance was incredible with attendees from countries ranging from United States; United Kingdom; Ireland; Turkey; Spain; Peru; India; Finland; France; Canada; Netherlands; Australia; UAE; Rwanda; Malawi; Nicaragua; Brazil; China and across the private, non-profit and government sectors.


I have received requests from several of you at varying stages of your DEI journey- those starting out in DEI, others of you who have been DEI practitioners but need more guidance in scaling the work globally, as well as those who are confused about how to navigate the external challenges- to teach a course on global DEI. In response to the requests, I will be launching a Global DEI Seminar in March 2024. Each time I meet you, I can see that global DEI draws the most interest and also the most frustration!


The Global DEI Seminar

A Masterclass for Global DEI Leaders with Dr. Rohini Anand

I want to do my part to equip this current and next generation of global DEI leaders (you!) to rise to the inevitable (and unforeseen) challenges of today and tomorrow.


I will be teaching the Seminar and sharing my insights and guidance as a practitioner who has done global DEI transformation work with a range of organizations. I will share practical lessons I have learned along the way. In addition to the content, guest speakers and interaction, participants will receive one on one coaching from me.


Watch this space for more information coming soon...!


I appreciate all of you so much – YOU are the community of support that keeps me going. We have accomplished so much together, and there is so much left to do. 


Let us lift each other up this year, encourage one another to nourish our own resilience – individually and collectively - and move forward into 2024 with intention and renewed focus. 


Let 2024 be the year when we truly rise to the challenges and seek out the opportunities they are offering us to be courageous, inspiring and responsible inhabitants of this planet we all call home. Each of us can play our part! If not you, then who?


Happy New Year!


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