Building a strategy around long-term change on DE&I

The co-founders of a diversity-assessment agency share guidance on how to achieve organizational progress on a seemingly intractable problem in U.S. society.

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DE&I guidance for 2021

The diversity, equity and inclusion movement has a conundrum. Stakeholders, both on the inside and the outside of organizations, want to see immediate, tangible change. But experts warn that the work of undoing systemic racism is an arduous, long-term, proposition.

Meaningful change won’t happen overnight—but organizations have to start showing progress.

That’s why some DE&I experts are trying to reframe the conversation around improving racial equity in the workplace as a journey or “continuum.” The latter is the word used by Mike Burns, one half of the sibling duo behind Burns Brothers agency, a culture-driven integrated diversity agency based in New York that offers 360-degree solutions for client and stakeholder needs in this new and diverse environment.

Burns describes the continuum of change organizations must traverse in three stages. The first is to create space where people of different backgrounds within an organization can engage with each other and be heard. “People have to be willing listen to points of opinion that either they’re uncomfortable listening to, or that they even might disagree with, but they still have to have the ability to listen,” he says.

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