I led another DE&I workshop recently

People who know our work at IQS Research know that we have been conducting DE&I research for about a decade. But, we have only been running DE&I workshops for the past year.

We didn’t plan to offer DE&I workshops as part of our portfolio, but there was an important need and we didn’t see anyone filling it. I don’t know how long we will stay in this space, because honestly, the margins are better when we focus on the other parts of the company.

Still, I’ll say that these workshops are energizing! The organization for the most recent workshop has about 400 employees with about 60% being Black or African American, about 35% being white, and the remaining being of other races.

We enter the DE&I space the same way we approach other issues.

  • There are problems (or there is a problem)
  • The problem needs to be understood
  • The problem needs to be addressed
  • We are going to come together to understand this problem and put a plan together to make improvement

When the problem is racism, you have to tackle the underlying components because racism isn’t a single issue – it is a confluence of several issues. However, if there is a group of committed and empowered people, then a lot can happen.

And if it is done correctly, then what happens is real progress to address the issue, not just a series of feel good exercises.

In the case of this workshop, we chose to address two disparities that exist between white and Black employees. One disparity is around Black employees being promoted at different rates than whites and the other centers on fair treatment of Black employees.

There is 20-point gap between the opinions of Black and white employees in these areas, so the rationale to choose these two was pretty strong.

Now here’s the thing, this group of about 30 individuals, not only committed to take these issues on, they put together the first steps to address the issues, they set a goal for how much of the gap will be fixed with the first set of actions, and they set a deadline for when their progress will be measured again.

Their work may not be perfect, and they will surely hit bumps along the way, but what gets me so excited about their work is that:

  • It is real
  • It is specific
  • There are people and resources committed to start making progress and those people will stay with the project for the next two years
  • There are people on the committee who have authority and can implement changes
  • There are deadlines
  • There is a commitment to check their work again as a specific date

If this feels very engineering-ish, it is. And while there are dozens of details needed to successfully combine the head-work of an engineering process with the heart-work of DE&I, the combination is powerful.

I believe DE&I is one of the most important issues our country is tackling right now. And I think we have to move past the feel-good exercises so that we can focus on changing organizations. The feel-good stuff has a place, but it has to be followed by internal commitment and real change to the way the organization operates.

That type of change is hard – you could tell the people were mentally fatigued at the end of the workshop. However, if we aren’t willing to tackle the hard work, then we are just putting window dressing on the problem and nobody has time for that bullshit.

Welcome to the soft launch

Well, it took longer than expected, but the soft launch version of the website is operating. I wanted to spend some more time building out the anti-racism section, but eventually I realized that section will be a work in progress for a long time. This was clearly becoming a place where great was becoming the enemy of done. So, I paused the new items to focus on getting the site published. I’m very open to feedback (positive or negative). So, let me know your thoughts.

I look forward to hearing from you.


A Taste of What’s Next

I suppose when you start a new website with a blog, the obligatory initial blog post is one that tells people about the site and also what to expect next. Well, I think the contents of the site are somewhat self-explanatory, but to give you some information about what’s next, I can tell you that I (and my team at IQS Research) have been working a lot lately in the area of anti-racism.

This is an interesting space, I think, for white people, because the world has definitely changed in its awareness of the disparities between whites and Blacks.

As a researcher, I have seen decades of research that highlight differences in treatment, earnings, and opportunities, but heretofore those data points have been largely ignored.

That is changing, and people are starting to take notice.

So while the sections I have for Grief and Cigars, and Running, are both pretty well developed, the section on anti-racism will be more of a work in progress. However, as with other items on this website, I hope they still bring additional clarity, even as they continue to evolve.

For now, I’ll leave the teaser there, but I will try to have that section posted in the next few days.

Until then.