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DEI Disruptors

In April’s blog, I discussed the layoffs and phasing out of diversity workers in many of our corporations, addressing the following: Did corporations lack commitment? Weren’t held accountable enough by consumers? Hired inexperienced DEI officers with few resources? Were disingenuous about effecting change? Or all the above?

After the horrific death of George Floyd, countless corporations beefed up their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, promising to achieve a diverse workforce.

Journalist and political commentator Roland Martin discussed the critical topic on his Roland Martin Unfiltered daily broadcast. I referenced a survey finding he mentioned, stating that at the end of 2022, the attrition rate for DEI roles was 33 percent, compared to 21 percent for non-DEI positions.

Hello, I’m Johnicon George Sr., owner of Icon Connects, LLC. Welcome to the Real Social Change Blog.

This month’s blog focuses on DEI Disruptors to help us get back on track with many of our corporations.

A couple of dictionaries define a disruptor as a “person or thing that interrupts an event, activity or process by causing a disturbance or problem.” A disruptor aims to prevent a system or process from continuing.

As I said last month, when it comes to DEI, we’re dealing with centuries of Diversity, equity, and inclusion problems that won’t solve overnight. We’re dealing with generations of ingrained behaviors, attitudes, and fears, requiring committed and passionate DEI Disruptors.

So, what are DEI Disruptors, and what is their purpose? First off, I believe DEI Officers must consider themselves DEI Disruptors. They want to prevent a system from continuing concerning White-centered corporate boards, contracting opportunities, and employees.

They want to hold the company accountable regarding the amount of money allocated to the DEI budget, the quantitative and qualitative data gathered, current policies enforced, and implementing DEI recommendations.

DEI Disruptors want to ensure that the company is proactive most of the time rather than reactive.

DEI isn’t about responding to consumer backlash by gathering employees in a conference room for cultural sensitivity training and returning to business as usual.

In the Roland Martin Unfiltered broadcast, Roland had guest Randi Bryant, owner of Bryant Consulting Group, LLC, which helps companies with their diversity efforts. She labels herself a DEI Disruptor.

Randi said in earlier interviews that being a DEI Disruptor doesn’t often lead to friendships, rainbows, and butterflies. People will become uncomfortable, fearful, and angry.

She explained in one interview being a professional people pleaser, code switcher, and an “acceptable” Black woman, adding that most of her DEI training sessions were worthless in some ways because of her fears.

She attempted to lull attendees into a Kumbaya moment, sidestepping race yet soon learning she couldn’t discuss DEI without addressing race.

Following her sessions, Randi said, underrepresented employees approached her often in tears, telling their stories.

She then started her business, deciding that changing people’s lives was more important than being accepted and liked by others. She wanted Black people to have a safe place to talk about issues affecting the community. Moreover, she wanted the freedom to be courageous, promote Black Love, and view matters from a Black woman's perspective.

Randi said people ask her why she would design a space that speaks explicitly to and is designed for Black people as an inclusivity advocate and specialist. She responded that the question confirms people are uncomfortable with discussing racism. And that a specific space is needed for Black people because people avoid talking about race.

In the long run, Randi said, we must acknowledge others’ feelings, or they will spill out into negative behavior.

Randi admits she remains nervous that some organizations won’t hire her because “they prefer to avoid doing the challenging work required to create truly inclusive environments.” She learned, however, that the Universe responds to us when we’re our authentic selves.

To summarize, being a DEI Disruptor requires taking risks, using wisdom when approaching situations, and being courageous regarding race issues. They must be willing to call “a thing a thing” so that all employees can thrive in the workplace, benefiting the company.

The Real Social Change Blog is a community blog. Please feel free to submit DEI topics you want to see discussed. If your suggested topic is selected, you can choose an Icon Connects SWAG bag or a $50 value MARY KAY gift basket!

You can also post your comments, discussions, and suggestions on the blog. Please do not post private information. And remember to be courteous, as I will quickly remove offensive, disrespectful, or irrelevant ones.

Take a moment to view previous blogs, browse the Icon Connects, LLC website, and subscribe!

See you next month!

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