Practice and Accountability
So many organizations try to solve their DEI challenges with one off training and other shallow solutions. In the words of Chorus Line, That Ain’t It, Kid. You cannot make your organization more diverse, equitable, and inclusive with one 90-minute session on microaggressions. Training on what feedback sentence stems to use cross culturally won’t do it either. You also cannot rely on re-designing practices and systems only. Relying on “If you build it, they will come,” only really works for ghosts and baseball fields. True transformation requires something more.
If you want diverse teams to thrive, you must uproot the traditional, extractive talent practices that lead to inequity and exclusion. I believe you can uproot oppressive practices by infusing liberatory principles into your talent design (https://hbr.org/2022/12/how-to-infuse-liberatory-practices-into-work-practices). Designing for liberation is only part of the work. Unlearning traditional practices and learning new ways of operating is like trying to swim upstream. Oppressive and extractive systems are present in nearly every facet of our lives. We have been trained to be transactional. To extract. To take advantage of others. To dominate. Operating in ways that embrace solidarity and are aligned with liberation is new to many of us. So you must be committed to ongoing practice and being accountable in your community if you want to infuse liberation into your work.
Practice is about learning new ways of working and relating to your work colleagues, and practicing those skills so you can get better at them. In a lot of ways it's like learning a new instrument. It takes practice to learn how to play a new piece of music well. At first, when you play, the music is stilted. You have to think about how to play each note. But over time, with practice, your play requires less conscious thinking. Similarly, it takes practice to act in solidarity with your work colleagues. At first, you’ll have to consciously choose how you behave to disrupt oppression and embrace liberation. But over time your behavior requires less conscious thinking to act in solidarity with your colleagues. There will be times when you fall back into old ways of doing things, and you may cause harm. That’s why accountability matters - for liberation to thrive you have to be accountable to the commitment to act in solidarity and reciprocally with people you are in relationship with. When you fall short, you acknowledge it, make amends, and you continue your practice. Being accountable also means being open to the accountability actions of others (https://www.yesmagazine.org/opinion/2022/07/25/love-accountability-adrienne-maree-brown). Practice and accountability is about committing to each other to learn how to find your way to freedom together. It means committing to learning from the practice of liberation, getting better, working to stay in right relationship (https://coralus.world/in-right-relationship/), and operating in new ways to create a liberatory workplace.