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Why We Need to Shift from "DEI" to Committing to Race Equity, Accessibility, Diversity, Intersectionality, Inclusion, and Belonging (READI2B)




White Supremacy is popping up everywhere, and it isn’t stopping. It can be exhausting for those who feel it every day. This is why we need to commit more than ever to Race Equity, Accessibility, Diversity, Intersectionality, Inclusion, and belonging (READI2B) work instead of limiting ourselves to “DEI” (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion). 

At Baker Consulting, we do READI2B, not DEI. What’s the difference between the two? DEI is about focusing on people who look different and ensuring they are included. This is why some are suggesting that DEI is not working, along with the fact that White Supremacy Culture is fighting back. READI2B is about changing the White Supremacy culture that shows up in organizations so Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) can survive and thrive.


DEI – Diversity, Equity & Inclusion


Diversity

Ensuring people within an organization look different (i.e., racially, culturally, etc.).

Equity

Providing individuals and groups with what they need to be successful. Equity does not mean everyone receives the same thing; it is not about fairness.

Inclusion

A feeling that a person or community is included in a group or organization; their thoughts and ideas (i.e., their voice) are heard and received in the meetings they participate in, are moved forward, and included in the thinking and not overshadowed by those with rank and institutional power; and they are included and/or considered in decision-making processes.



READI2B – Race Equity, Accessibility, Diversity, Inter-sectionality, Inclusion, & Belonging


Race Equity

Leading with Race Equity is essential, as it allows for dealing with an organizational and societal culture that promotes institutional and systemic racism. Organizations are unable to retain diverse staff because their culture remains harmful. Experience has shown that when we think about DEI and all these initiatives, Black and Indigenous people still find themselves at the bottom. Their needs and liberation are still furthest from the top in conversation and social needs. Thus, even though “diversity” is supposed to be an initiative to deal with equity and inclusion, having diverse people by itself does not lead to becoming a more “Just” and antiracist organization or society.

Diversity

Diversity should not only be about people in organizations looking and present differently, i.e., different ethnicities, genders, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, social classes, physical abilities, and other identities. It must be about thinking differently and having full cultural expression. Diversity allows us to grow as individuals, organizationally, and as a society. Diversity is an asset in work environments when said work culture allows for different ways of thinking and being and when white normative behaviors do not define the standards.

Intersectionality

It is about embracing our identities, understanding how they intersect, and the interplay of power, rank, and status when interacting with others. Our intersectional identities create both headwinds (barriers) and tailwinds (that which pushes us forward), all of which create opportunities for thriving and struggles. Additionally, we must acknowledge that all of these are compounded by race (i.e., a Black woman has more barriers than a white woman simply because of race).

Inclusion

The thought or feeling that an individual is included in a group or an organization; their thoughts and ideas (i.e., their voice) are heard and received in the meetings they participate in, are moved forward and included in the thinking and not overshadowed by those with rank and institutional power. They are included and/or considered in decision-making processes.

Belonging

Belonging happens when all the above are met. Belonging provides a feeling of acceptance and security within a group or organization. It is more significant than inclusion.away from White normative behaviors, the question arises, “Well, what else are we going to do?” The meta-communication in that statement is that there are no other ways to do a thing, and White is right, and different cultural ways of being are wrong. And that is not right. We must learn to tap into other cultural ways of being and doing and ask ourselves, “What are other cultures doing?” and “How were we before the impact of White colonialist ways of being?”

Ultimately, we must grow our understanding of how the invisibility (existing in the background without knowing it is there) of Whiteness permeates our society and organizations, as Whiteness has been normalized as the right way, discounting all other ways of being. 

If we work in an organization and we want to survive and thrive within that organization, we must deal with race and White supremacy culture or White cultural normative behaviors. Thus, we have to lead with race equity. We must deal with how racism and White Supremacy culture are a part of our business practices. This has created an organizational culture that harms diversity and belonging efforts, however well-meaning they may be. Because of this “Adaptive Challenge” — changing the hearts and minds of the organization’s greatest asset: their staff” — the difficulty level rises because one of the hardest things for people to talk about is race.




READI2B provides the foundation for systemic change in organizations. We need to understand the cultural origins that have created these business practices and deal with how they impact and harm Black People, Indigenous People, & People of Color who work inside these organizations. When discussing White normative behaviors in organizations, we ask, “Does a fish know it’s wet?” The answer is, “no.” Why? Because a fish doesn’t have the cognitive ability to consider the term “wet” in the same way that we as humans do. A fish unknowingly derives its oxygen and life from the water it swims in. But a fish swims in the water because water is its life source – it has no choice. The fish is born in the water; it lives in the water, and it swims in that water. This is true for us, as well. We are all swimming in the waters of White normative behaviors unknowingly. We live in a culture where the White culture developed the processes, the organizations, the systems and everything else. And, we don’t really consider that most of us have lived in this environment, our entire lives and that we are all not just influenced by it, but our entire lives are shaped by it. It has happened and we have had to accept it. We have had to acculturate and assimilate to some degree because the meta-communication of this country is that if you want to be successful, you have to acculturate and assimilate into White cultural normative behaviors— White ways of being. We have to do it like they do it. We have to walk it like they walk it. And, it has been done systemically, so we, this country is infiltrated by the White way of being in such a way that we don’t even know we are influenced by it, ordained by it, inundated, besieged, and overcome by it… swimming in it. Now, some BIPOC folks have become successful by adapting and acculturating to these ways of being, and sometimes they are unaware that they have acculturated and the harm it creates until they recognize, understand, and stop to think about what they have given up by assimilating and by acculturating into these White normative behaviors. Additionally, White people have to realize how these White normative ways of being also harm them.


This is not to say there isn’t a place for some of the White normative behaviors in our ways of being. The objective is to bring it in balance with other cultural ways of being that are just as effective, and yes, this will take an investigative practice to find. Because, again, we all have been swimming in the waters of the White Supremacy culture. This society, however, has often minimized other cultural ways of being, doing, and getting along. Usually, when we talk about moving away from White normative behaviors, the question arises, “Well, what else are we going to do?” The meta-communication in that statement is that there are no other ways to do a thing, and White is right, and different cultural ways of being are wrong. And that is not right. We must learn to tap into other cultural ways of being and doing and ask ourselves, “What are other cultures doing?” and “How were we before the impact of White colonialist ways of being?”

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