As D&I experts, we have always advocated change, based on a thorough look at hidden dynamics and taking into account changing contexts. While we see many signs of good progress and real success, a number of worrying and even threating elements tell us to rethink,realign and revise our work.
Public assaults, aggression, marginalization and fundamental questioning including denying narratives show that D&I has not become as established and ‘normal’ as, e.g., safety. Hence, we must question some of the assumptions and routines, and we must consider ‘big structural changes’ in our approach in order to be impactful including outside of our filter bubbles.
If we take an honest look at the development of D&I over decades, our field has created some of its own routines, values and, further along, underlying assumptions—just like the routines and invisible norms corporate cultures tend to create. As we recommend to the business to critically reflect unwritten rules and all too obvious beliefs in the light of fundamental changes of the context, it is up to us to do this now for our own frameworks and approaches. There has been more than enough backlash to make the need for reforms obvious – and the superficial successes should not distract us from this insight.
A framework to reform D&I
In order to practice what we preach, we should be aware that our analysis as well as the creation of solutions will require us to step out of our comfort zones. Instead of turning to the peers from our filter bubbles (including conferences, councils, corporate networks), we need to involve people with different perspectives. And we need to consult empirical research more rigorously to find evidence that backs up our strategies and not just the headlines of our campaigns. This will also help us not to be sucked into the polarized discourse of populist campaigns, where emotional arguing tries to override facts.
Insight-based, international and innovative input
A 28 pages special section of Profiles in Diversity Journal (Fall 2019 issue) presents and discusses research findings and practical cases in a way that provokes reflection and points towards new developments. As an Industrial Engineer, Michael Stuber offers different interpretations than what might be more commonly expected. His experience in working internationally, 20+ years, with admired D&I leaders is embedded in the analyses presented.