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What are the most common pitfalls of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies?

One paradigm that I've often seen in diversity/inclusion initiatives is collectivism rather than individualism. I've spoken with a couple of boards about this who agree that it does happen. Collectively the board says we need to be more inclusive. They all agree that we need more people of color, or more women around the table because it's hard to not agree with something like that. But at an individual level, none of them are prepared to step down to make space for someone to step up. Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world. With projects that organizations deliver into the markets here, one of the challenges is that rather than going out to the community to find out what the voice of the Tongans is, they just grab a Tongan programmer to speak for all Tongans. A big problem with diversity and inclusion initiatives is the assumption that because you've got someone on the team, you've ticked the box and that’s that.

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One paradigm that I've often seen in diversity/inclusion initiatives is collectivism rather than individualism. I've spoken with a couple of boards about this who agree that it does happen. Collectively the board says we need to be more inclusive. They all agree that we need more people of color, or more women around the table because it's hard to not agree with something like that. But at an individual level, none of them are prepared to step down to make space for someone to step up. Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world. With projects that organizations deliver into the markets here, one of the challenges is that rather than going out to the community to find out what the voice of the Tongans is, they just grab a Tongan programmer to speak for all Tongans. A big problem with diversity and inclusion initiatives is the assumption that because you've got someone on the team, you've ticked the box and that’s that.
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Anonymous Author
Folks around the table will all agree that we need diversity, but how you take action is where the rubber hits the road. The action that I advise is to get involved with organizations such as Year Up, Black Girls who Code, etc., because that reduces the barrier of entry into your company. Then it's a partnership and it’s less about picking one person to be the representative, which is unfair to them. If you have some top-of-funnel system getting them through the company, that causes a ground swell of more folks who want to see themselves reflected at that level. That's when people believe you are sincere. On the flip side, not doing anything and sometimes placing the wrong person at that time could yield great results, but I also want people to be deliberate and sincere about it. You don't want a woman on the board just so you can tick a box. And even worse, if things go sideways through no fault of their own, then you didn't really set them up for success. DEI strategies are tricky at best, but you need to be deliberate. Doing some outreach to the organizations that help those that are underrepresented is an easy way to find folks and get involved.
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