Research Paper By Erica Cote
(Transformational Coach, UNITED STATES)
Diversity is defined as;
The inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc. dictionary.com
Equity is defined as;
The quality of being fair or impartial; fairness; impartiality. dictionary.com
Inclusion is defined as
The state of being included. dictionary.com
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been long needed in businesses but it has become more apparent than ever. It has become something that individuals are cognizant of how necessary it is in life as a whole, so as it becomes a part of how many moves through life it also becomes how business is done. When small business owners decide to infuse their brand with their beliefs, values, and ethics there is usually a lot of work to be done. DEI is not just a concept to be brought in and executed by HR as another mandate. It is a backbone to most, if not all, of the decisions made. Everything from buying habits and recruitment practices, to company culture and choosing conferences to invest in. The basis is how it supports people in being an integral part of an organization, and if they feel respected and represented as the entirety of who they are. It is a necessary element to be addressed to give a level playing field to everyone, but in some cases, it is not clear as to what steps need to be taken and what the right steps are. This is how DEI coaching can facilitate imperfect action.
I believe powerful questions are pivotal to moving people into action. You will see them throughout this article to support the points here.
- How does DEI support the purpose of my business?
- Who do I look to serve by bringing DEI into this organization?
- What changes need to be made to be more diverse and inclusive?
- How will the current structure of the business need to change to integrate DEI?
- Why is DEI important to the vision for this organization?
It is easy to assume that only perfect actions are desirable or will get the job done. But because there are no surefire rules that work consistently for everyone in all cases, there will be some trial and error to find what works for the client. Now, this is not to say that efforts should not come from a place of planning, thoughtfulness, or proof of what the client’s company culture or audience wants and needs. But it should come from a place of being open to shifting to meet the needs that become apparent as they arise.
- How can my plans shift if necessary?
- What actions must happen to begin this process?
- What do I need to know to begin this process?
- How can I anchor my efforts with my “why”?
I chose to become a coach because of the beliefs, ethics, and values that I use to navigate life. I built a beauty brand that I have had for over 12 years and when I rebranded it a few years ago it became apparent that what I know today as DEI was simply a part of how I moved through life as an individual. With over 20 years of customer service and relationship building experience, I have maneuvered through diverse businesses and clients while holding space for growth and opportunity for others. These created the basis for what became my niche as I moved through my coaching course and decided to address an area that was of great importance to me.
Where Does Imperfect Action Shift Values Into Action
Being inclusive is an action. It is not a static thing. When clients choose to bring their DEI values into their business, it begins as evaluating how they will integrate into the current structure of their business. This works in some ways, but soon they are confronted with changes that will have to be made to house the new values as the old no longer support the current goals. When confronted with the need to dismantle old ways of doing things, clients can become resistant or discouraged by the amount of change needed. Acclimating to the concept that you can’t take the old into the new can keep some individuals stuck, which is why breaking down the shift into small and actionable steps can keep the momentum going.
Instead of looking at the entire change that the client wants to make as one large chunk, they can stay focused and motivated by creating smaller goals that move them on the path toward the larger goal.
- What actions will contribute to achieving this goal?
- How can this goal be broken down further?
- What small goals can be done by other team members?
- What could derail achieving this goal?
Acknowledging Where Action Is Necessary
Bringing DEI goals into a business structure is typically a layered set of actions, so addressing them in order and in small pieces keeps it feeling doable for the client. As they lay out a plan, and give themselves actions to take, they can begin to see where they must do things to reach the goals. Sometimes the actions are done by other team members, so identifying the actions for delegation can take some of the responsibility and shift it to others involved. This prevents overwhelm and again makes the goal more approachable.
Without laying out what the goal is, why it is important, how it will be executed and by whom, it is impossible to have clarity that creates action and therefore sustainable change. Also addressing where the goal is beginning to take shape provides positive reinforcement that the things being done are contributing to the desired changes.
- How has the initial structure changed?
- How does this change support the ultimate goal?
- How does this change intersect with other areas of the business?
For example, deciding to change the hiring structure, process, and the ideal candidate within a business needs to be broken down into steps that are addressed one at a time. Here are some steps for shifting the position posting found by a client when editing her current process.
- Who do I want to hire?
- What makes someone an ideal candidate?
- How does this support my business?
- Are my ethics apparent in my hiring shifts?
- Is the candidate clear on the type of organization they would be joining?
As the client went through these and additional questions, it became clear what needed to shift, where and why. It was also then easier to convey these ethics to current and new hires in a way that was concise and digestible.
How Imperfect Action Creates Forward Momentum
The need for perfection is a hindrance to forward momentum. When assessing what is needed to begin to bring DEI into a business there will be a season around evaluating your goals, designing a plan of action, and listening in to see what the results are to make adjustments. No business thrives long term by being stagnant or resistant to evolving. In this case, this business owner realized that considering and mulling over her personal evolution was not enough. Action and results became goals so her ethics could show up and support others through her business.
Seeing how changing the hiring structure and process shifted the internal feel of the business, adjusting the client-facing areas made perfect sense to tackle next. Inquiry with questions like these began to adjust the marketing, visually and verbally.
- Are the types of clients I want to serve showcased in my imagery?
- How has my target audience shifted?
- Am I addressing the challenges of my target audience in their language?
- Do the clients I look to serve to know they are welcome and safe here?
This line of inquiry helped to identify possible holes in the marketing, which needed to be addressed, and how it could be done. This also showed who would be the one that needed to execute the action, therefore including the support of others that facilitated reaching the goal without overwhelm. Always staying connected to the why behind all of the shifts kept the actions tethered to the greater purpose.
It’s The Journey Without A Destination
As these goals were met and exceeded, it became apparent that there was more to be done. And there would likely always be. Because diversity, equity, and inclusion are all elements that have no endpoint. There is no point that will be reached where there is no more work to be done. As awareness and knowledge shifts change, staying aware and flexible yet committed to your greater why makes sure you stay on the path toward your goals. Knowing this is a helpful reminder to clients, and reminds them to be present to the journey and its gifts along the way.
- How has the business changed since this process started?
- Who has benefited from this change?
- How does the business serve differently since these shifts began?
- How am I committed to maintaining this momentum?
- How are the shifts extensions of my “why”?