Restorative Social Justice Values: Driving Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in our workplaces

Covid 19 highlighted an awareness of our interconnection with each other.  It also shone a real light on the many social, racial, and economic inequalities present in our local and global communities.

Our increasing awareness of climate injustices, coupled with the world-wide Black Lives Matter protests in recent years, have been drawing forth values into our collective that emerge from the ground of our True Nature.

Our shared witness together of the stark inequalities present in our society has evoked a call from our depths for values such as truth, peace, social justice, and dignity for all. 

Values such as these emerge from our essence. They are expressions of the inherent unity underlying each of our unique lives.

Some of us may call these authentic, universal or core values.

Spiritual or religious people often call them faith, spiritual, or soul values. By whatever pointing term we may refer to, these essential values are unity-centric. They emerge from, and support, our shared existence.

These values call for a united stand for equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging in all spheres of life – including our workplaces. 

Many of us advocating for some time for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace quote from consistent findings in research that continue to demonstrate how a diverse workforce is critical to every organisation’s innovation, performance and success.

We very rightly advocate for change by highlighting that DEI also encourages greater employee engagement, increases job satisfaction, and leads to better business outcomes.

These are all very important and valuable drivers, and absolutely necessary to be included as part of our conversations.

However, as someone interested in the root causes of human behavioural change, I’m persuaded that any real and lasting shift in our society emerges from a re-orientation of the inner place from which we operate first.  

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

We need to examine our root intentions, motives, and values if we are to drive the much needed change in our workplaces for DEI long-term into the future.

Recent neuroscience research reveals that our values influence how we perceive, decide and act.

Executive centres in our brain that drive creative problem solving switch on when we are living true to what matters most to us. 

I’m persuaded that our work for DEI in our workplaces is a real form of peaceful social justice work, and that as more of us align our hearts with the universal value of social justice – real systemic change in our workplaces will be at forefront of our consciousness now, and long-term into the future.

We are all still in the movement for equality and freedom that many of our ancestors have stood up for before us. As we each contribute our part to DEI in our workplaces, I believe that great souls like Harriet Tubman, Javed Abidi, Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk, Susan B Anthony, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr are walking by our side reminding us even now that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’ [1] 

In reading these statistics, do you also feel that justice is too long delayed in our workplaces?

  • Out of all Fortune 500 companies, just 5 have African American or black CEO’s, as reported in June 2020. [2] 
  • Closing the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years due to negative outcomes for women in 2020, according to the World Economic Forum in March 2021 [3]
  • Although 90% of companies claim to prioritise diversity, only 4% consider disability in those initiatives, 2020. [4] 
  • The unemployment rate for the blind and visually impaired stands at over 70% as of June 20201. [5] 
  • While LGBTQ+ women make up 2.3 percent of entry level employees, they comprise only 1.6 percent of managers and even smaller shares of more senior levels. June 2020. [6] 
  • Three in 20 LGBTQ+ women believe that their sexual orientation will negatively affect their career advancement at work. For LGBTQ+ men, this number is even higher, at six in 20. [6] 
  • Transgender workers are subject to different types of unfairness at work including bathroom accessibility, being deliberately referred to by incorrect pronouns, and having to tolerate inappropriate questions, which can lead to employee disengagement and avoidance. June 2021 [7] 
  • For female veterans in the USA, the unemployment rate dipped in 2020 to just 3%, and for male veterans 3.5%. [8]

Our hearts hurt when we hear of inequalities like this because we are all interconnected, and the inherent goodness of our True Nature calls us to respond.

As Bryan Stevenson, American Lawyer, Social Justice Activist and Founder/Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative states so eloquently: “We cannot be full evolved human beings until we care about human rights and basic dignity. That all of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone.” [9]

We each understand that diversity, inclusion, equality and belonging is a long-term journey for any organisation to truly embody across all the categories of under-representation and marginalisation.

Every DIE strategy must be multi-faceted, planned and phased in it’s approach and implementation.

Yet it is also time—past time, for us to do the systemic work of building justice, equality, inclusion and belonging for all.

If we choose not to embrace the values of our belonging to each other as one human and earth family – we will miss an opportunity for evolution, and things will return to the same ‘business as usual’ mindset of separation and individualistic values that have created the division and inequalities in our world.

For real long-lasting change to happen I suggest we as leaders need to be willing to go back to the Source and inquire into the original intention for our work.

We need to uncover the true purpose of our work, and open to the ever greater emerging potential for business to be an agent for social change, peace and regeneration in our local communities and ecologies.

As leaders, we need to embrace the honest and vulnerable inner work that’s needed to re-assess our personal worldview and values, and our organisation’s values, and witness how these values have been guiding the perceptions, decisions, behaviours and company culture up to now. 

Exemplary leaders at this time are listening, learning, unlearning, and engaging in connected heart-felt conversations on racism and inequality, understanding that we are all part of each other.

Outwardly, we are seeing many commendable organisations making leaps and strides in recent times by turning pledges into clear actionable strategies and committed, living action plans.

Touchpoints like these are important to be included into an organisations approach to DEI: 

1. Executive leadership awareness, learning, unlearning, commitment and involvement.

Achieving change will require transformational inner and outer shifts. CEO’s and the Executive Leadership Team can start by listening to and learning from people who have been at the receiving end of racism, oppression, marginalisation, colonisation, and injustice.

Own and name where the organisation is currently. Tackle inequality at the core, while humanising people’s difference. Move towards salary equity, and promoting inclusion in the workplace so everyone feels safe, welcome, and free to be themselves.

2. Solid DEI data and reporting across all the diverse categories. Identify data gaps and create a plan to address them.

3. Write and publish a 5 year overarching DEI strategy for the organisation, and an associated 3 year action plan. Set SMART goals, performance indicators, and a sustained budget dedicated to the implementation.

4. Drive engagement. Create an DEI committee/steering group to help drive the agenda. Meet regularly. Report annually on DEI progress. Appoint and empower DEI allies, and innovate ways to encourage and invite staff Involvement across the whole organisation. Ensure all staff have a personal objective on diversity and inclusion.

5. Create an DEI strategy in every department, with associated action plans. Invite managers to attend a diversity and inclusion educational training programme to explore objectives, allyship, microaggressions, unconscious bias, and more.

6. Create DEI networks/hubs. Allocate budget to each to support their activities.

7. Create DEI training and DEI toolkits.

8. Create DEI recruitment policy, strategy, processes, and inclusive practices. Conduct an audit of recruitment policies and practices to make them more equitable and bias free. Design and embed DEI centred recruitment initiatives at every stage of the process: advertising, shortlisting, selection, interviewing, offer, onboarding.

Deliver interview panel member training in positive action and unconscious bias.

Ensure partnering recruitment agencies are aligned with your DEI principles, and that they provide relevant monitoring data.

Align your careers page, job descriptions, adverts, employer branding, and marketing with your DEI centred focus. Ensure there is connectivity between the recruitment ATS and the HR system for clearer monitoring, benchmarking and reporting data.

9. Internal development. Consider mentoring, reversed mentoring, sponsorship, coaching, learning and development initiatives for marginalised groups. Create a structured DEIB centred management/leadership trainee programme.

10. Encourage an organisation culture that cultivates psychological safety, inclusion and trust. Nurture an environment that values welcoming feedback, and actively seeks out a constructive critique of ideas, actions, and behaviours in a way that is positive in intent and non judgemental.

11. Invest in mental health and wellness for Staff. Ensure your wellbeing strategy includes additional support for marginalised groups in acknowledgement of the effects and trauma of systemic oppression.

12. Continuous reporting, reviewing, innovating, learning, and improvement. 

The ecological diversity of the living earth is another expression of life’s diversity, and wholly interconnected with our social diversity.

In a conversation on diversity and inclusion such as this, it would be anthropocentric of me to exclude an honouring of the rights of Nature for diversity, equality, inclusion, belonging too.

Thankfully, many of our organisations are becoming more aware of our interdependence on Nature and our ethical responsibility to respect, protect and support to regenerate the diversity of life in our local workplace community ecologies.

Challenging inequalities both within and without is a central focus for all companies who want to protect human rights and earth rights, and help to build a fair and inclusive society. 

I look forward to continuing to learn from each other in the times ahead as we work together for diversity, inclusion, equality and belonging in our workplaces and beyond.

Endnotes:

[1] Quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Junior: https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

[2] Fortune.com: https://fortune.com/2020/06/01/black-ceos-fortune-500-2020-african-american-business-leaders/

[3] World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/reports/global-gender-gap-report-2021

[4] World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/3-ways-disability-inclusion-can-shape-the-new-decade-of-innovation/

[5] World Service For The Blind: https://www.wsblind.org/blog/2021/6/16/employment-barriers-for-the-blind-and-visually-impaired

[6] McKinsey & Company: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/how-the-lgbtq-plus-community-fares-in-the-workplace#

[7] Catalyst: (https://www.catalyst.org/research/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-workplace-issues/)

[8] Built In: https://builtin.com/diversity-inclusion/diversity-in-the-workplace-statistics

[9] Bryan Stevenson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, an American lawyer, a social justice activist, and a law professor at New York University School of Law. Quoted, with permission, a phrase from Bryan Stevenson’s Ted Talk, 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2tOp7OxyQ8

4 thoughts on “Restorative Social Justice Values: Driving Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in our workplaces”

    1. Thank you, I really appreciate you for sharing your kind words. I’m with you – I continue to learn from others every day too. I value your connection here. All kind wishes, Lynda

  1. May I simply say what a relief to uncover somebody that really understands what theyre discussing over the internet. You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people really need to check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that youre not more popular because you certainly have the gift.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, that truly means a lot. I hope that more of us whose hearts connect with messages like these may continue to unite together in the times ahead. All best wishes, Lynda

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