We Need Fewer D&I Advocates and More D&I Professionals

We recently published a post entitled You Can’t Prevent Unconscious Bias from Happening, So Stop Trying To, in which we discussed the dissonance between awareness of unconscious bias and the fact that attempts are being made to prevent it from happening using current actions and tools. The main question we raised was, “What can we do?”

In one of the conversations we had with Aubrey Blanche (for those of you who don’t know her, she’s super cool and Global Head of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Atlassian), we tried to answer this very question. The answer we came up with was — upgrade yourself.

We see a lot of D&I advocates. As we’ve said before, they are the modern-day Sisyphus — they take it upon themselves to be involved, to contribute and to try to change such an important and significant issue. Some of them have an official D&I position in their company, some are HR representatives and some just want to change and improve the ways things are. They are the main force and reason for the change we see in the scope and nature of D&I discourse.

D&I advocates are passionate and excited about talking, sharing, inspiring others and taking an active part in the process, and it has all brought us this far. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough. We obviously don’t mean to offend or disregard their work, but in order to continue to make progress, we must learn how to transform many (but not necessarily all) passionate D&I advocates into D&I professionals.

What is a D&I professional, and what’s the difference?

D&I professionals are the next stage of the D&I movement. They are enhanced advocates, one with both the passion for the space and the business skills to embed D&I into rapidly-changing organizations. These are people who are focused on executing and achieving real results, and who transform themselves into a tool to achieve that. They are leveraging their passion and sense of goal to acquire, develop and master the skills needed to get their job done — to get diversity done.

Diversity is not an HR problem, it’s a business one. They get it, and get that they need to expand their business capabilities for this.

D&I professionals adapt an acute understanding of business acumen inspired by Ursula Burns and Mary Barra or experts in a variety of sales techniques, like the sales gurus at Salesforce. They know human psychology, the passions and fears we all have, and they know how to leverage them to motivate people.

D&I professionals look for sources of knowledge and inspiration in places that aren’t HR or diversity oriented, such as behavioral economics, persuasive design, or even QA management — and they find a way to learn from all of these things to get results. They will constantly expand their knowledge and skills to meet their goals. To achieve true diversity and inclusion.

This is exactly why we started The Diversify Forum.

We know you’ve likely been in many awesome diversity & inclusion meetups, but we hope that you’ll find this one unique. We won’t be talking about why diversity & inclusion is important, but instead focusing on how to make it happen.

The Diversify Forum’s goal is to provide a select group of (future or current) diversity leaders with the opportunity to learn, develop and expand their skills and capabilities, to create real inclusion and push diversity at their companies (“to diversify their skills that will diversify their companies”). It’s not about diversity or about us — it’s all about you and how we can support you.

The first event will focus on the first step in this path — How to Sell D&I? with guest speakers from Atlassian, Lever, and Salesforce.

When? June 13th, 2017.

Where? San Francisco (TBD).

How to attend? Apply here.