Couple of years back I was sitting with my co-facilitators, discussing on the matter of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. When one of the facilitators, came up with a beautiful anecdote, that I am presenting it as I remember:
Once upon a time a really rich man was visiting a destitute land. He met a poor man in the land and asked “what is it like to be hungry?”. The poor man tried to describe the feeling of being hungry. Knowing this intellectually now, the rich man, said, “I now understand hunger and the feeling of it”. He had added knowing feeling of hunger to the number of things he already knew and was happy, almost feeling that this was enlightenment. However, to know what is hunger of a poor man, you have to be hungry. You have to be hungry, knowing that you may not get food. This is not at all comparable with a rich man going hungry out of choice, because what the poor man lacks is, choice.
The poor man doesn’t have a choice to be or not be hungry. That makes the experience totally different than the person operating with a choice.
I was intrigued by what my co-facilitator had just related, because most of the time, people who are in a place of choice can easily negate the power of choice. Who in the system has a choice and who doesn’t, many times depends on where they come from, thus creating difference in experiences.
In such a scenario, imagine when the rich man, goes back to his prosperous land and writes a best selling book about his ‘Experience with Hunger’, and comes out with ‘so called valuable’ spiritual advice. He makes more money, becomes more rich, and the real experience of hunger doesn’t find a way to express itself.
What do you think happened?
Equity was lost.
(Picture taken from Culturalorganising.org, for more visit: culturalorganising.org, D5coalition.org, ttp://www.opensourceleadership.com/documents/DO%20Definitions.pdf)
Many organisations both for-profit and non-profit are looking at ways to create more diversity and inclusion. In my previous article, ‘Creating a Cultural Container for Diversity’, I spoke about the intent and difficulties organisations may face while on their journey to creating diverse and inclusive organisation (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/creating-cultural-container-diversity-rashmi-dixit/).
In this article I want to bring spotlight on the third element, without which it is difficult to create a diverse and inclusive organisation, and that element is ‘Equity’.
Creating a strategy for ‘Equity’ in the organisation can be a grounding experience, and will only come from the intent of the collective leadership.
The intent to create Diversity, Inclusion and Equity will have to become part of the values that the organisation strives to work with. Remember if the organisation starts to erroneously believe that it already has these values just because the top management talks about it, it will never be able to successfully roll out the cultural change it is looking for (ttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/humane-organisations-delusional-disorder-rashmi-dixit/ ). All voices will need to be included in this process.
The process includes assessment of current status, on;
How do people in the organisation understand Diversity, Inclusion and Equity?
What are their feelings about Diversity, Inclusion and Equity?
What do they understand about Power, Privilege, Rank, Race and Culture?
Based on the current position, organisations can strategise and design, where they want to move to. The movement and journey, will have a greater momentum when it is collective and introspective process.
Organisations would need to understand that inclusion will have to be shown by example, and that it would then, build more inclusion of diversity. Human process labs, group discussions, coaching and facilitations can support this entire journey.