The Biases of The D&I Practitioner
“This subject is very close to my heart “ a statement I hear from a lot of people driving the D&I Agenda and there is almost always a story behind it . A story of discrimination or a story of extreme hardship due to being the “other”.
Some of them chose to be in the space of D&I work, some of them found themselves in it, some are leaders and some are in totally a different profile but like to be an ally or sponsor .
The effects of the individual experiences can be good and bad both. Good because we all know passion has energy which can drive and bad because the experience left the D&I practitioner with marks and biases which have rarely been looked into let alone managed.
Lets’ talk about some of the experiences of different people at different stages in their lives
Senior Women who are anti the Diversity agenda:
An intolerance developed over the years due to disowning their own authentic femininity to survive in a male world lead to an antagonism for women getting it “too easy” due to quotas, policies etc. Some of them will be very vocal about how women are behaving entitled and they themselves are the root cause for non-progression. I have come across many in my long journey of more than a decade working with organizations and individuals.
A reluctance to talk about differences and preferring to be “Gender Neutral” in the professional arena. You will catch these women using words like “irrespective of gender “, “beyond gender “ etc. etc.Many will argue that the common reasons cited as obstacles for women are applicable to men as well and it is more a personality trait that makes one succeed or fail.They forget that they may have reached a certain position despite challenges but that does not represent the majority. It does not mean that those who fell down on the way because exhaustion set in or because their choices were really tough are not entitled to be “there”.When presented with Scientific Brain Differences between men and women they undermine them or simply go into denial.Some introspective questions (a) “Gender Neutral”? Is that what nature intended? (b) Is it playing out in their personal lives? (c) Can one really put aside your inherent identity when you come for work? The answers can be eye opening.
And there is a group who has indignant rage. They feel that the Diversity agenda being followed are too soft and should be “hard hitting” to put men in their place with strong action when biases show up in word or action.
As a Doctor, Psychologist, D&I Consultant and having coached and mentored 1000s of professionals and personals in the last 30 years, I am able to see the impact of their own personal story and the biases that have resulted due to it . I am taking an example of Women Leaders, but the same dynamics apply to biases related to Disability, LGBTQ, Generations, Culture and many more. The personal story leaves an impact, which needs to be managed with expertise.
Just like therapist need therapy, a D&I Advocate needs support and handholding. They need a coach who helps them remove the lenses and channelize the passion constructively.
The Responsibility on their shoulder is tremendous. They are agents appointed by society, organizations and the governments to steer humanity into a loving inclusive compassionate space, where paradigms have expanded to accept and respect many “others”.
A D&I advocate needs the investment of coaching and mentoring too, the Organizations and Governments sometimes forget that. A gentle reminder for thought and introspection.