In recent times it has become best practice to publish your company’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion statement online. This lets your customers, clients, and collaborators know who you are and where you stand. It’s an important statement to make, however, I personally feel that many of these statements barely go beyond the the federal Equal Employment Opportunity law and are simply too vague.
For example, the statement “We believe in treating everyone with respect,” evokes more confusion than clarity for me.
What is considered respectful treatment?
Who determines that?
What does it look like?
When I lived in the southern part of the United States it was considered respectful by most people to refer to strangers as “sir” or “ma’am.” This is so common and prevalent that most people say it automatically. However, I quickly learned after moving to Los Angeles, that calling someone “sir” or “ma’am” – especially a person under thirty years old – elicits laughter at best. At worst, referring to someone as“sir” or “ma’am” can cause embarrassment or anger, especially if you have incorrectly misgendered the other person. Just a three-hour flight away and you’ll find the definitions of “respect” vary wildly.
We can solve this tricky situation by acknowledging that we are all different, that we all have different definitions of respect, and that we all require different respectful treatment. Thanks to the work of sociologist Milton Bennet, we can pass up the Golden Rule (treat others the way you want to be treated) for the more valuable Platinum Rule (treat others the way they want to be treated).
As I was drafting my own Diversity Equity and Inclusion statement I strived for specificity and concreteness. This is not a static list and I will add to it continuously as our world shifts and needs change.
Making this public statement does not mean I’ve never made a mistake or been misguided. Businesses are owned by humans and human are imperfect. That said, you should hold me and my business to the highest standard.
Here is my personal and organizational commitment to equity:
Myself, and my affiliates will:
- Strive to treat others not the way we want to be treated, but the way they want to be treated. (Bennett’s Platinum Rule)
- Refrain from assumptions of other’s identities and accept the identities they tell me as true and valid
- Refer to others by their chosen names, pronouns, and other identifiers
- Listen with grace and understanding to any comments that are brought to me about myself or my business
- Hold myself and my business accountable for mistakes and seek to remedy them to the fullest extent possible
- Continuously reflect on, and evaluate, the privilege we experience, and use that privilege as agency to advance social change
My business will:
- Facilitate donor travel experiences that cultivate empathy, not exploitation
- Provide our clients with training and resources that elevate their intercultural competence
- Refrain from participating in any activity that is – or could potentially, – exploit, demoralize, or demean the dignity or humanity of a group or individual
- Partner with organizations that demonstrate a similar commitment to equity
- Continuously seek out guidance, advice, and collaboration from minority thought leaders and business owners in the field
- Pay these consultants and collaborators for the time and value they add to this business
- Utilize vendors from minority-owned businesses when possible
- Promote minority voices and experiences through my podcast (forthcoming!) and articles
- Properly cite sources for content and information when the source is known
- Donate a portion of our profits to non-profit organizations that advance equity in my community and around the world
If you feel that something critical is missing from this list, shoot me an email and let me know!