Why Is It So Hard? Moving Beyond Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 101

Dana Theus
2 min readAug 10, 2023

I feel like we’ve been in “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 101” class for decades now. Starting more than 30 years ago organizations first funded the “D” (diversity). Then when those programs didn’t diversify workforces enough, they added the “I” (inclusion) and more recently the “E” (equity) to bring racial and gender balance into their leadership ranks. Now we’re talking about the “B” (belonging). Yet the lack of true diversity, equity and inclusion in our workplaces and leadership remains.

An emphasis on welcoming diverse minds and bodies into leadership is still very much needed. Diverse board representation remains low and among executive team numbers it’s even lower (women’s representation 15–28%, ethnic minority representation 13–17%, with executive team numbers lower than board members). Improvement in these numbers recently has been glacial.

Given that gazillions of dollars have been poured into Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives to create more diverse workplaces, the return above isn’t all that impressive. What gives?

There are plenty of true DEI primers available so I won’t reiterate all the research that tells us about systemic barriers, unconscious bias and the limited impact of performative allyship, but I will summarize what I observe from both our research and the interpersonal dynamics I pick up through coaching many female and underrepresented leaders. I especially want to highlight a few dynamics I think are underappreciated by the White majority in leadership. Knowing these issues can make us better DEI allies to those around us no matter where on the ladder of privilege and inequity we personally hang out.

Read the full post at InPowerCoaching.com

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Dana Theus

Thought leader on how personal power creates change. Coach. Entrepreneur. Women’s Leadership Advocate. CEO: www.InPowerCoaching.com