DE&I: The race is on

 With Farida Habeeb’s provocative blog entry, “Time to do the (Internal) Work,” IABCLA announced our focus campaign on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) as a call to learning and action.

On August 5, we launched the campaign with a webinar, “The Race is On: Talking about Identity in the Corporate Workplace.” Joining DE&I expert Farida Habeeb, Ph.D was Beverly Durham, principal of BLD Communications and member of the Los Angeles Diversity Council Advisory Board of ColorComm, a business community for women of color in communications.

The time is now

After briefly reviewing the current reckoning on unequal justice in social and professional life, the leaders called for communicators to lead brave conversations on diversity. They reminded participants of the powerful business case for diversity as a driver of performance. They also pointed out that the clock is ticking down on diversity – as the U.S. moves to a majority minority nation in 2045.

Cultural terms and identifiers

The webinars explored cultural identifiers, our overlapping visible and invisible identities – who we are in terms of age, disability, sex, gender, class, race, religion, nationality, education and more – that define us and control how we see the world. To prepare for and build effective community, we have to lead conversations that honors and bridges these identities.

With an interactive small group exercise, where each participant built a 360-degree identity wheel based on personal identifiers and their relative weight, we explored how our multiple identities overlap, in some cases leaving people vulnerable to multiple levels of discrimination.

Conversations in color

At this inflection point, how do we as communications professionals start and advance conversation about identity with customers, employees and corporate leaders?

Based on their experience and expertise, Beverly Durham and Faridah Habeeb left us with practical tips for leading the conversation about DE&I conversation.

 With employees:

  • be vulnerable,
  • know the purpose and details before you start
  • listen inclusively
  • avoid comparisons in experience
  • support employee-determined feedback channels (surveys, intranet feedback links, etc.)

 With customers:

  • be honest
  • commit to doing the work
  • amplify POC (people of color) voices and resources.

 This is just the first of IABCLA’s programs to meet the day’s challenge of DE&I. If you have a suggestion for a webinar or panel discussion, let us know. Reach out to IABCLA’s president. []

 IABC says: We see you. We hear you. We are with you.

IABCLA adds: Let’s get together and have conversations that matter.