7 Modern (But Not New) Problems Seen Through a DEI Lens

Katie Zink
3 min readApr 25, 2020

The landscape of DE&I work will be ever-evolving and the work is never done. Many might ask, why is now the time to solve these problems? Won’t a lot of this stuff just sort itself out naturally? Why is it my job to fix it?

I’ve witnessed people who are underrepresented continuously feel isolated, disenfranchised, and finally leave a company due to no clear path for them. I’ve wondered why there aren’t existing resources out there to help hiring managers career path for their teams. I’ve heard people’s hiring managers say “you’ll never get promoted”, “I’m not measured by how inclusive my team is”, or bar people from growth and accepting new responsibility while majority culture continues to coast upwards swiftly.

Equity work is deemed “noble” but often seen as extracurricular to how the business operates, not intrinsic to.

Finally, this is changing.

When I surveyed participants about what would truly motivate an executive leadership team to make organizational DE&I work a priority, I received responses like,

  • “Having a better understanding of the long-term negative impact an inequitable, non-diverse workforce and workplace has.”
  • “Seeing very tangible actions leading to very tangible results.”
  • “Examples of what other companies have done.”
  • “An increase in employee retention, job satisfaction and corporation loyalty.”
  • “I think leadership understands it is a priority, but there are so many priorities right now.”

It’s simple. We know that when all people feel that they can be fully themselves, great work happens. By fostering psychologically safe working conditions, we thereby operate from a place of belonging, values, and integrity.

These are also the conditions for innovation, creativity, and change.

What may not be so simple, is the transition to operating under values that breed equity and inclusion. In fact, discovering how harmful one’s actions may have been, despite the best of intentions, can be an intense experience for anyone. I sincerely believe that people are inherently good and most are operating under the best intentions. But, that’s not enough; an impact-driven mindset must be where we shift to.

As Brene Brown would say, avoiding difficult conversations is the definition of privilege. In my latest favorite from her, she discusses daring leadership.

Courageous leaders are never quiet about discussing the hard topics around diversity and inclusion. To not want to have these difficult conversations is the definition of privilege. Brave leaders choose courage over comfort. It is not the job of the people targeted by racism to invite people to the conversation. It is the role of the leader to start the conversation.

The problems we’re seeing in organizational spaces may not always be unique to one group or culture, but the solution will always be.

So to the leaders out there, I ask

  • How do we create workplaces that are safe for humans to show up as themselves?
  • How do we create organizations of belonging?
  • What’s standing in the way of doing this? What are the long term impacts of not doing it?

The truth is, opportunity is a social construct and power is the benefactor. It’s time we intentionally shift power to allow for abundance in opportunity.

Originally published at https://katiezink.co on April 25, 2020.

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Katie Zink

DEI Strategist | Facilitator | Writer | Believes we’re all capable of our own revolution. Learn more about my signature consulting program at katiezink.co