Expert perspective: what is DEI and how to bring DEI change into your organization?

Pro insights from Dynasti Hunt: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Expert. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), and Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) are terms that are becoming commonplace in the corporate vernacular. You see aspects of DEI coming to life in company social media posts supporting movements like #BLM or #metoo. You see it in official D&I transparency reports, inclusion in company core values, and on corporate websites. 

What is DEI? University of Florida (source).

Unfortunately, many DEI initiatives fall short, with the disgruntled reality appearing in full public display on Glassdoor, Facebook, etc.

So what’s going on? Most often, it’s because the organization looks at DEI or D&I as a checkbox on the HR programs to-do list (Fortune). Another factor is many DEI initiatives lack authenticity (Fast Company), e.g. a lack of representation. 

We met with Dynasti Hunt, a Prox Pro and DEI advisor for a real-world perspective on how to create successful DEI programs. Dynasti, also a fitness entrepreneur, brings DEI into her fitness programs in simple tactical ways like giving customers a voice in playlist choice and class format.

Prox: What’s your general POV about DEI in the workplace?

>> Dynasty Hunt: DEI needs to implemented holistically; it should include hiring practices, operational strategy, and become company policy.

Prox: There are a lot of DEI experts now, how do you delineate?

>> Dynasty Hunt: “I like to focus on equity. The majority of company DEI programs focus on representation and inclusion practices, both are important, but there’s little conversation about are people paid equitably? When you focus on the equity side, you get closer to anti-racism principals (the root-causes) and how to create meaningful change.”

“I also help companies get specific with DEI, understanding whether diverse groups feel they are treated differently and if they believe their voices are heard. I help in other ways, like teaching equity classes.” 

When you focus on the equity side, you get closer to anti-racism principals (the root-causes) and how to create meaningful change

Dynastii hunt

Not surprisingly, Dynasti is seeing a trend of younger customers demanding organizational change. She shared there’s a real groundswell movement that is creating awareness with the c-suite. Most of the outreach comes directly from the CEO with concern that if they don’t make a change they will lose good employees.

With so many materials to navigate, it’s hard to find answers and practical action plans for questions as common as:

  • How do I diversify my talent pool?
  • How do I change my pipeline in recruitment to be more diverse?
  • How do I retain my diverse employees?
  • How do I change my employee handbook to be more DEI focused?
  • How do I change how my current compensation structure to ensure equity parity?  
  • I want to do DEI work, how do I get started, what do I need to do next?
Dynasti Hunt, Prox Pro and DEI expert.

Prox: Can you share tactical tips to bring in DEI into an organization?

>> Dynasti Hunt:

  1. Clarity on DEI budget. “Time and again, I see organizations wanting to bring someone in to help with DEI but they don’t set aside a budget to make sure it can be implemented.” 
  2. Involvement. “Make sure that the CEO and leadership team are on board and actively involved. There’s only a certain amount of change an organization can make if you don’t have them actively involved.” 
  3. Openness. “Be open to learning and shifting. The most successful DEI programs are when organizations are open, acknowledge the issues, and hold themselves accountable.”
  4. Representation. “I’m working with an organization that identifies as 95% white. They have big DEI goals. But, their DEI council made up of all white males and they created the DEI counsel. I’m now on that committee and helping to bring in a different voice and perspective they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Prox: What do you think is being overlooked?

>> Dynasty Hunt: “It’s easy to focus on external DEI factors, like what’s happening in our justice system, but we forget what we can do personally. Look around at your own workplace. Create a system and structure to address things like the company holiday calendar–changing Columbus Day to National Indigenous Peoples Day. [Perhaps most overlooked] Make sure that individuals have space and time to drive DEI change. An individual can change the way an organization operates.”

“Diversity is good. Pass it down the line.” A reality of why many DEI programs struggle.

Prox: What companies that are doing a good job with DEI?

>> Dynasti Hunt: “Les Mills, Pelton, Living Cities, because you can see what they are doing, they have diverse representation, and they also acknowledge that they have more to do.” 

Prox: Is there DEI prep work that you recommend?

>> Dynasti Hunt: “Start the conversation. There’s an investment, both time and money. I often recommend two books that help provide a great foundation about why we need DEI (1). How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, and (2). Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad.” 

Prox: Who do you admire?

>> Dynasti Hunt: “Michelle Obama, she has a strong sense of self-confidence and vulnerability you can relate to her.” 

Prox: Do you have any practices to you often go back to 

>> Dynasti Hunt: “I often go back to prayer and journaling. There’s also a verse from the Story of Esther, paraphrased: ‘[B]ut what better time than now. Who else than but you.’ It stands out because we all can make a positive change, but change won’t happen if it’s sitting on the shelf.”

“I also go back to Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King Jr. It’s unfortunate that it’s still very relevant today and shows the importance of how we must come together to support things like DEI.”  

Prox: Are there any trends or predictions that you have for 2021?

>> Dynasti Hunt: “We need to get beyond DEI performative talking points and lead with proof points. People are actively asking DEI questions right now. [Furthermore] Everyone has a voice. If you don’t want to give yourself accountability, the public will hold you accountable through social media and other outlets.”

Dynasti Hunt, Prox Pro and DEI expert.

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