Like never before, issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging came to the forefront of national consciousness and organizational culture in 2020. In order to address the impact of the pandemic, racial and social unrest, and the uncertainties surrounding the economy and election, some companies and DEI practitioners were forced to pivot quickly on planned diversity initiatives, while others scrambled to create or expand programs as they were learning what exactly this work entailed for their organization.

Regardless of where you and your business fall on this spectrum, 2021 brings a chance to put into practice some of the lessons learned, build on the foundations laid, and recommit to a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging practice that will leave all of us in a better place at the end of next year. Whether you’re a seasoned DEI leader, an active ally, or someone who is just beginning the journey in this work, here are ten professional and personal DEI resolutions to make for the new year.

⦁ Choose one action to incorporate DEI into your daily life and work.

As a diversity officer, you’re likely thinking about the big picture of your organization when it comes to DEI. As an employee, it’s easy to rely on a DEI program to provide a roadmap. However, all of us need to think of individual steps we can take each day to help our companies and ourselves move forward. Even something as small as following different people on social media will shed light on the perspectives of your co-workers that you may not have considered.

⦁ Consider different ways to define diversity.

Identities intersect with gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion, language, and different abilities to name a few. Keeping intersectionality in mind is crucial in creating equitable and inclusive spaces.

⦁ Be a better ally.

We’ve heard a lot about being an ally, but what does that look like in practice? Allyship can often show up as passive or performative. Think instead of active ways to support colleagues and friends, even if it means getting out of your comfort zone.

⦁ Broaden your reading list.

If you typically read books by people who look like you and have a similar background, consider branching out with your next book purchase. Regardless of genre, books give us insight into peoples’ lives. We can’t learn about others if we never enter their worlds.

⦁ Become okay with not being perfect.

Building a personal DEI practice takes time and the work will never truly be done. You’ll misspeak, accidentally offend someone, and/or need to apologize more than will feel good or even fair. Commit to acknowledging your mistakes and moving forward.

⦁ Rest and Reset.

Tapping in to all that DEI means can be exhausting, because it causes us to address uncomfortable realities, relive personal traumas, and confront our own short-comings. Learn to take short breaks that refresh and strengthen you to be able to continue your work.

⦁ Remember DEI when planning events and conferences.

It’s crucial to ensure your speakers are diverse, regardless of topic, and your presenters are compensated equitably. In addition, take the extra step to create a truly inclusive environment that offers discounted tickets, volunteer opportunities, full accessibility for those who may need assistance, and includes pronouns on name badges (or video boxes) to normalize all gender identities.

⦁ Ensure your diversity initiatives continue to grow and change with your company.

If you created value statements, strategic diversity plans, and goals several years ago, review them with fresh eyes to make sure they reflect where your organization is now. Also, set new aspirational goals so that your work doesn’t become stagnant.

⦁ Invest in external diversity, too.

When hiring suppliers or contractors, consider small businesses, women, minority or veteran-owned companies, and local vendors. Often, these businesses can offer a more personalized approach given their size.

⦁ Find joy in the learning.

Especially since entertainment will be virtual for a while longer, take advantage of concerts, book readings and other performances across the globe. Have some fun while experiencing something new.

About the Author

Heather McClean (she/her) is a Certified Diversity Professional and attorney whose diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting practice focuses on creating strategic diversity plans, facilitating brave/difficult conversations, and leading education sessions. She also provides sensitivity editing for marketing communications, fiction, and personal essays.
Heather is a graduate of Vassar College and Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, received her diversity certification from the Institute for Diversity Certification, and has a certificate in creative writing from the University of Chicago Graham School of Professional and Continuing Education.

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