Have you noticed the trend? The trend that’s woven among milestones and strategic goals for DEI, belonging statements, equity reports, and even “culture change” conversations – all efforts that contribute to much-needed change. Looking at any big corporate name, you’ll find a plethora of information on what the company is doing. They’ll have diverse groups of people in videos and case studies, telling rich and impactful stories about the company’s contribution and impact.
At the macro level, this is a fantastic signal – it means that we are moving in the right direction. It’s clear that good work is getting done behind the scenes to get companies to position their brand and culture in these ways. But, when you look at independent news and social media posts that call light to the still vast inequality riddled within those companies – I can’t help but ask, “Is this just superficial work?”
For instance, look at companies like Google or Cisco, which feature beautiful vignettes of empowered, inclusive employees through their diversity initiatives. They both also publish a thorough annual diversity report that showcases their progress – yet independent headlines still strike doubt when reporting on things like caste discrimination and bias in the company. This happens at most companies – just take your pick and perform a quick google search, first, their name and “diversity initiative”, then their name and “discrimination”. Let me know what example you found the most compelling.
At the micro level, if we were to conduct a survey asking whether or not employees across the board feel the benefit of these DEI programs and initiatives, I would hypothesize that they aren’t. Here’s why (and how to fix it):
So, what’s the key to fixing this? Liberatory Consciousness has my vote.
Liberatory Consciousness is the process of acknowledging that we live in marginalized and oppressive systems with awareness and intentionality. It’s the idea that enables us to understand the role played by each person in the maintenance of the system without blame or judgment and, in turn, use this awareness with intentionality by focusing on creating changes within our microspheres of influence. So, instead of systematic top-down corporate initiatives that superficially “solve” the issues within our workplaces – we take the accountability into our own hands and individually become aware of, analyze, act on, and develop ally-ship around those that are oppressed.
Barbara Love’s 4 elements of Liberatory Consciousness are simple, relevant, meaningful, and most importantly, doable – every day! They are Awareness, Analysis, Action, and Accountability/Allyship.
Consider your own use of Liberatory Consciousness – is there one step that is hardest for you to enact? Right now, I’m working on strengthening my actions. Writing this blog is a way to act on my awareness and observations of the oppressive systems around me.
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by bad people but the silence over that of good people.” – MLK
So let’s not be silent.
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