Your DEI Director is Tired and Overwhelmed. Here's How You Can Support
You’ve seen them around the office (or at least on a virtual call). They have bags under their eyes, coffee always in hand, and let out a deep sigh whenever someone asks how they’re doing. Your poor Chief Diversity Officer.
You don’t remember them being like this when they started.… They were kind of fired up and maybe a little extra, honestly.… It’s possible to get them back to their former selves. If you believe in the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts your Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) is putting in, you have the ability to refresh their bodies and spirits no matter where you fall on the corporate ladder.
Everyone needs appreciation for the hard work that they do, but the work of trying to change hearts and (sometimes stubborn) minds requires a different level of acknowledgment. These folks are out there walking a delicate line between pushing people to learn and shoving them off into antiracist oblivion. It’s emotionally exhausting!
Let them know that you see them. Send them a handwritten note that describes the impact they’ve had on you, your coworkers, and your customers. When they know that they’re making a difference, they’ll get a needed boost of energy to continue with the day-to-day battle.
Or maybe buy them a coffee…
Time and Money
Some CDOs are out there trying to effect systemic change by MacGyvering together toothpicks and old gum because they weren’t given any resources.
- Give the gift of time by allowing them to set very focused goals rather than colossal goals that will divide their attention in hundreds of directions.
- Give them additional team members so they can divide and conquer.
- Allow them to have more time to deliver results–this isn’t like manufacturing motherboards or selling cars–this change is anything but predictable and linear.
- Increase their budget so they can conduct focus groups, create educational materials, and hire outside consultants.
Freedom and Trust
Your DEI team needs autonomy. While their efforts are going to make a positive impact on the bottom line, they have to go about their work differently than other departments. Let them think outside the box and try new systems even though it isn’t “how we’ve done it before.” That’s why you hired them! Trust that they have your organization’s best interests in mind.
Blessings and Grace
Again, the DEI department is going to function a little differently than your other departments. You will not see transformative organizational progress overnight. You have to give DEI employees the benefit of the doubt that their plan will pay off in the long run. Make sure they have regular access to key leaders in the company so they can share their plans and progress and keep leaders engaged in their work.
With these four empathetic gifts, your Chief Diversity Officer and other DEI employees might just come back to life from their current zombie states. Won’t it be refreshing to see the fire in their eyes again? Won’t it feel great to celebrate with them when you start to see the fruit of their labors?
What have you done lately to support your DEI team? How has it helped them and your organization? Tell me in the comments!
And engage in more conversations like this in The Solution Consulting Co.'s Equity Impact Hub Community.