Changemakers
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Changemakers

Why there’s no such thing as a “DE&I Expert”

At the Ashoka Changemaker Summit, DE&I leaders unpack misconceptions—and how we make real change

“Living our values” is a constant struggle

Companies are operating in an ecosystem that’s shaped by white dominant society. Challenging this oppressive context to create more inclusive companies is an uphill battle — for BIPOC leaders, too, says Yvonne. Our values must stay at the forefront, informing every policy and practice — from how companies do their investments to vacation and leave for employees.

DE&I is about so much more than demographics

It’s important that companies hire more people from communities that have been historically excluded. But demographic shifts aren’t enough. We’re starting to see other kinds of important change, Beric says — reflected in whether companies choose to invest their money into women-owned, black-owned investment banks, for instance. He explains more:

Equity starts behind the curtain

Turning to the world of entertainment, how does DE&I transform an industry with such cultural sway? Offering a set of crucial questions, Miki shines a spotlight on the storytellers: From the script to the set, who is on the crew? Who is in the writer’s room? And do they feel the safety to bring their full selves and creativity to that space? We must live up to truly inclusive standards to bring much-needed perspectives to the screen.

Leaning into learning journeys

Pre-pandemic, when travel was more possible, Bad Robot employees had the chance to embark on physical learning journeys to deepen their understanding of equity issues. Before leaving on the trip — a civil rights trip in Alabama, for example — employees spent months learning more about the history and context. Miki explains the importance of trust, curiosity and care, especially when folks start this journey from different reference points:

No such thing as a “DE&I expert”

It’s tempting to believe that learning journeys are only for some, but in reality even professionals who dedicate their careers to DE&I always have more to learn, too. Every panelist agreed: the idea of a DEI expert is a myth — no one can know all there is to know about every group and culture on the planet. Beric enjoys the process of constantly seeking new learning:

Looking ahead: How do we level the playing field in the hybrid workplace?

With the hybrid office evolving, inclusion becomes an even greater challenge. Will newer employees, working totally online, have the same advancement opportunities as longtime workers? What about those working from home, such as caregivers, who can’t return to work? Leaders must enter these conversations with understanding, empathy, and intentionality, Beric says.

About the Ashoka Changemaker Summit

The Changemaker Summit “A New Togetherness” is Ashoka’s yearly global gathering. It connects a vast community of social innovators and leaders from business and philanthropy to celebrate inspiring solutions, learn, and collaborate towards systemic change. Tune in every Thursday through December for conversations on Planet and Climate, Equity, and more. The culminating event on December 2 will be hosted in Turin, Italy. More information at https://acms.ashoka.org/

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