Overview of the 2023 NW Diversity Learning Series
Twenty-five years ago, the NW Diversity Learning Series invited companies and organizations to join together to learn how to better manage and leverage diversity. Every other month since, employees, managers and leaders from a spectrum of organizations have assembled in regular workshops to learn how to be more effective with diverse colleagues and customers, and create more inclusive work environments.
Over the past 25 years, we have learned a great deal and seen progress.
Today, diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and accessibility (DEI) have become part of many organizations’ core values. However, we have come to realize that for core values to have a significant impact on an organization’s culture—on its DNA—everyone in that organization must demonstrate those values daily, in their behavior and actions.
In other words, achieving meaningful impact in the workplace requires the daily “practice” of equity and inclusion. That’s a significant challenge because many employees, managers and leaders do not know how to live DEI on a daily basis.
Twenty-five years ago, we simply didn’t realize that DEI as a practice requires continuous mindful attention, intention, learning and action.
What better way to emphasize this realization than by dedicating our 25th anniversary year to the holistic practice of equity and inclusion? Employees, managers and leaders will learn that developing a daily practice requires individual competence in applying a DEI lens to many aspects of work life. That includes how one behaves, handles interactions across a spectrum of differences, creates safety for others, engages others in decision-making processes, contributes to an inclusive team culture, both claims and shares power, and notices and works to eliminate structural inequities and systemic barriers.
Why is the everyday practice of equity and inclusion important?
Research shows it is key to unlocking the benefits of diversity—benefits that accrue to individuals, groups, organizations and societies. In other words, to optimize DEI impact, everyone needs to optimize daily work habits around equity, inclusion, belonging and accessibility. At the same time, our society has its challenges—we have not been able to eradicate deeply entrenched racial and economic inequities. According to the 2021 CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity, “over 100 million people in America—that is one in three of us—are living in economic insecurity every day, most of whom are people of color.”
The CEO Blueprint challenges America’s corporate leaders to respond to the new “business imperative”: to adopt “new policies and practices that advance racial equity—defined as just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper and reach their full potential…” The Blueprint goes on to say, “We need every American with the power and resources to influence and shape our society to step confidently into the racial equity movement.”
In 2023, we believe the NW Diversity Learning Series can help all employees, managers and leaders step up to this challenge by providing the opportunity to learn how to build their daily practice of equity and inclusion.
Most importantly, employees and managers don’t have to wait for leaders to initiate this effort; everyone can develop a daily equity and inclusion practice. And with 25 years of experience, the Northwest Diversity Learning Series is poised to guide them on this important and necessary endeavor.