Coach Cheryl Reeve is the four time WNBA Championship coach of the Minnesota Lynx. She is a great leader and excellent coach. At a recent event showcasing the Lynx President’s Circle, she shared the great work of the Lynx organization. During her presentation, Coach Reeve asked a simple but thoughtful question that we all should ask ourselves, “Are you interested or committed to diversity (equity) and inclusion?” Her question implies that there is a difference between the way commitment looks, feels and performs and that it is very different than the behaviors someone exhibits when they are just interested. Let’s explore her hypothesis and see if there is something to this thought.
If you are interested in losing weight what might it look like in your actions. You could express your interest by reading a book on weight loss. You could express your interest by viewing a movie or attending a seminar on weight loss. You could outline a strategy for healthy weight loss and post it on your refrigerator. You could hire a trainer and a nutritionist and meet with them to discuss a plan for losing weight. You could join a gym. These behaviors demonstrate an interest in losing weight.
If you are committed to losing weight, what might your behaviors look like? You could identify a weight loss goal and pick a date by which you want to lose the weight. You could purchase foods that are healthier and cook and eat those foods as part of your new diet. You could join a gym and visit three days a week and workout for an hour. You could check in regularly with an accountability partner and make sure you take the advice of your partner when called out on your challenge of losing weight. These behaviors demonstrate a commitment to losing weight. This commitment manifests itself through intentional actions and are reinforced through goal setting and accountability.
So what if you are interested in equity, diversity and inclusion rather than committed. What does that interest look like? You could read a book on equity and inclusion. You could watch some Ted Talks on Structural Racism and go to seminars on Racial Equity. You could outline a strategy for building awareness, implicit bias and inclusive leadership. You could hire a Chief Inclusion Officer and join many national equity and inclusion groups. These behaviors demonstrate an interest in equity, diversity and inclusion.
So what does a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion look like? You could allocate a significant budget to do equity, diversity and inclusion work. You could invest in a Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer and a team (more than two people) dedicated to addressing internal and external equity and inclusion strategies. You could design develop and implement strategies that hire interns of color, establish specific and measurable goals for hiring people of color in all roles, establish specific and measurable goals for spending with diverse vendors, establish specific and measurable goals for reducing attrition for people of color, sponsor (monetary) career fairs and other events that focus on racially diverse, disabled and LGBTQ communities, and invest in strategies that educate, mentor and promote current racially diverse employees to higher level opportunities.
A commitment would have a CEO consistently investing in equity and inclusion and using his OWN voice to show the commitment to leaders and all employees. A commitment would have medical staff that addresses health disparities by identifying, measuring and then implementing strategies to reduce those disparities. A commitment would have various community partnerships with transparent relationships where there is mutual accountability, respect and support. A commitment would have a primary pillar of the organization’s strategic plan focusing on equity and changing the healthcare system to provide equitable outcomes, elimination of structural racism and providing health equity solutions for all patients and families.
So ask yourself are you interested or committed to equity and inclusion? Your answer may surprise you.