Article 1: The HR Roundtable 13 – Black Representation in Business
In the HR Roundtable 13 – Black Representation in Business, Srabani Sen, the founder and CEO of Full Colour shared valuable insights into common mistakes made by organizations in their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. With her extensive experience in the nonprofit sector and board leadership, Srabani highlights these errors and provides practical solutions for creating meaningful change in the realm of DEI.
- Asking the Wrong Questions: Srabani emphasises the importance of asking the right questions when addressing DEI issues. Rather than asking how to become more diverse, organizations should inquire, “What is preventing us from becoming more diverse?” This shift in perspective encourages a focus on identifying and addressing the root causes of inequity, leading to more effective solutions.
- Lack of Expertise: One significant barrier to progress in DEI initiatives is the lack of expertise. Srabani points out that organisations often equate lived experience with knowledge, but this can be a misconception. While individuals with lived experiences can provide valuable insights, actual expertise in DEI requires a deeper understanding and a systematic approach. Organisations should either invest in building internal expertise or seek external support from reputable sources.
- Pouring Water into a Full Cup: Many organisations attempt to layer DEI initiatives onto existing structures without addressing underlying systemic issues. Srabani likens this to “pouring water into a full cup.” To create genuine change, organisations must first assess and reform their existing systems, policies, and behaviours to create a fertile ground for DEI efforts.
- Warm Words and Little Action: Srabani highlights the problem of organizations using well-intentioned rhetoric without fully comprehending the meaning of DEI-related terms. This results in misaligned efforts and a lack of clarity among employees. Organisations must develop clear, organisation-specific definitions of DEI concepts and commit to practical, measurable actions rather than empty promises.
- Fear: Fear plays a significant role in hindering progress in DEI initiatives. Srabani discusses the fear of acknowledging one’s own biases, which often prevents individuals, especially leaders, from taking meaningful action. Additionally, the fear of being judged for not understanding DEI concepts can stifle progress. To overcome these fears, organisations must create a culture of psychological safety where employees feel comfortable addressing sensitive topics and learning from their mistakes.
Srabani’s insights shed light on common pitfalls in DEI efforts and offer valuable guidance for organisations aiming to create meaningful and lasting change. By asking the right questions, acquiring expertise, addressing systemic issues, taking practical action, and fostering a culture of psychological safety, organisations can make significant strides toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion at The HR Roundtable 13 – Black Representation in Business.