There is a lot of talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion going on globally. This isn’t about fitting the global trend to our companies but joining the NOW generation in this matter.
In previous blog posts, we have addressed this global issue, and it continues to be an essential topic for the NOW generation. NOW Gen brands are in the middle of this conversation and are focusing on making a real change.
“NOW Gen brands have a unique opportunity to change history with respect to diversity, equity, inclusion, systemic discrimination and racism, just like they are changing history by moving us into the digital age, but without DEI transformation, digital transformation won’t be any transformation at all.”
In a recent SXSW panel titled “Beyond Black Stereotypes: Redefining Black Fatherhood,” Kendricks Thacker shared some insights about what needs to be done to incorporate better DEI practices. He said that brands couldn’t just start talking when convenient, especially when they wade into topics they never previously championed.
“Don’t say nothing, if you haven’t said anything before,” Thacker said. “In those cases, the best a brand can do is listen, and donate their platforms to voices that understand the issues.”
As Thacker mentioned in this panel, to overcome the stereotypes of adapting DEI practices incorrectly, we must first learn to listen to those in the middle of the issue and understand their movements. We must not act before we think because DEI is not a vane issue and its impact on our society goes beyond participating as a brand or not.
With change comes trial and error; it will be utopic to believe that just making one change will forever change the global conversation. However, making this kind of amendment will often make us face errors. For example, DE&I has been one of the main focuses for many global companies for a while now. And although inclusion is vital to this global change, the mistake we are making is stereotyping that inclusivity. So from being stereotypical in the ways we present our DEI to making inclusion a stereotype.
In the case of DEI, stereotypes are fogging our judgment and blinding our inclusion. We are so used to boxing people according to their race, gender, religion, and even their jobs that we see individuals as groups of people. Stereotypes have been known to humans for a long time now, and much work has been done to eradicate them in society, but the truth is that stereotyping is more natural to our minds than we can imagine. We could blame heuristics for this, but the truth is we can all do better.
Heuristics, where stereotyping begins, are useful mental shortcuts that help us navigate life. These rule-of-thumb strategies help us shorten decision-making time and allow us to function without constantly wondering what needs to happen next. Overall, heuristics is a fantastic tool called “common sense,” but the downside is that it can lead to inaccurate judgments or biases, like stereotypes.
Theoretically, we should replace stereotypes with actual knowledge. Realistically, stereotypes are seldom challenged unless something creates a reason to change them. But this current DEI issue is a practical reason to make an effort to break from assumptions and demolish stereotypes. As Now gen brands encounter these roadblocks, they must stick to their DEI efforts and strive to make changes happen.
“The past year has shed light on what many people already knew: Much of the onus (obligations) of diversity, equity and inclusion was on the appointed DE&I leader, who historically often worked in isolation to carry out these objectives.”
In short, as companies, we must find ways to set objectives to beat stereotypes and be more inclusive. Still, we must learn to hear those affected by the situation and work together to impact how they are perceived in society positively. In the eyes of The NOW Generation, being inclusive speaks volumes, and as the saying goes: actions say more than words.