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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Dolley

DEI With An Alternative View

As the advancement of DEI in business practices is becoming more commonly recognized, some issues remain uncovered. When we think of diversity, we most likely think of things like race or gender, but what about disability?

According to the Harvard Business Journal, 90% of companies claim to prioritize diversity, and only 4% consider disability in those initiatives. While some people view this as a chore, others may view it as a chance for a company to grow. The following tactics benefit employers and ensure employees feel comfortable and supported to succeed.

A Strategic Approach to Inclusion

While attending the National Millennial Gen Z Field Trip to Los Angeles, I truly learned the importance of implementing DEI practices and how these initiatives come to various degrees. While attending this trip, we were assigned different tasks and challenges that required us to work in groups with other community members. Even though we were all working towards a common goal, we were able to provide our unique perspectives from different walks of life. Our lived experiences helped shape our knowledge and skills that helped us succeed in these activities.

We learned the importance of different viewpoints, ideas, and strategies for thinking quickly and how to pivot multiple times. Before this trip, I always thought of DEI training as a lecture of one telling their story and sharing their experiences. While this is one effective method of DEI training, I learned there are so many other ways to practice inclusion.

An Eye for Eye

During the field trip, the first activity was from Grow – a DEI Consultancy that helps advertising and marketing agencies overcome complex DEI issues and build strategies that amplify diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Researcher Kevin Thomas provided an activity that focused on diverse perspectives.

The objective of this activity was to visually create what we want our future to look like by using writing and drawing utensils. Once we finished, we placed our artwork around the room where we felt it best fit. While the directions were simple, the activity made me think about what I wanted my future to look like. I asked myself: Do I want to use words or drawings? Should it be straightforward or symbolize something?

There were many different approaches to this activity each provided unique perspectives and ideas behind their creations. After completing this activity and understanding the creativity behind others' masterpieces, this activity opened my eyes to the future of public relations and communications.

The Ongoing Process

While working in an integrative communications space like public relations, I will utilize the Diversity & Inclusion Wheel to integrate a multicultural approach to work.

This DEI Wheel Model has been around since 1991, with repeated modifications. I discovered this model in my Fundamentals of Public Relations at Grand Valley State University by Adrienne Wallace. She shared her take on the “Diversity-First Approach.” Wallace shared this model she modified with her co-researcher, Gina Luttrell.

Some people define DEI in racial categories when it is much more than that. We all play a critical part in diversity as everyone comes from all walks and paths in life. This model is just one of the many ways professionals can be more conscious of others from all walks of life.

Progress over Perfection

Diversity exceeds far beyond race and gender. Professionals can utilize the model and take the time to foster inclusion in increments beyond classifications.

Although some are strong advocates, there can be times when there are mistakes. Maybe words were misinterpreted, or someone forgot to add the alternative text or closed captioning to a video. We all make mistakes from time to time and forget to add things.

According to Meryl Evans, a recognized voice on LinkedIn for accessibility advocacy, society should educate rather than berate. We are all humans, and we all make mistakes. Make it a priority, but do not stress if there is a slip-up.

Progress is not always linear, but any progress is worth respect.


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