We hope this message finds you well and managing as best you can with the multiple societal challenges that we are dealing with in 2020.
We conceived the idea for The Inclusion Allies Coalition in 2016 to bring together advocates for inclusion in response to the divisive anti-inclusion rhetoric that we were hearing from the newly elected President, Donald Trump. The nationalistic, polarizing ideologies that he embraces and the Republican Party seems to support carte blanche have had far-reaching global impact.
We did not think that it could get any worse and then it did, and it seems to just keep getting worse with each passing day. It is clear to us that the work of IAC is needed more now than ever before.
We find ourselves in a place that we could not have envisioned when we founded IAC. We are coping with a virulent global pandemic that is still out of control in the United States, impacting Black and Brown communities at disproportionate rates. We are on the brink of a recession with millions of people out of work as a result of COVID 19. Many of those who are tagged as essential workers are clustered in lower paying jobs and are more likely to be people of color who are more susceptible to the virus. In response to repeated police brutality against Black people, global protests have erupted exposing systemic racism in the US and beyond and the new wave of activists are demanding real change.
There has been an outpouring of response from the corporate world, vowing to take action both internally and externally to dismantle systemic racism. At the same time, the president has issued two recent Executive Orders that have the potential to significantly thwart our efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in our organizations and society in general. The first Order banned anti-racism work in the Federal government and this week an Executive Order was issued that prohibits government contractors from engaging in training that “race or sex scapegoating or race or sex stereotyping.” The order essentially prohibits any education that would examine systemic racism.
In addition to the contentious socio-political environment, climate change is having devastating impacts. Natural disasters caused by fires, floods and hurricanes are getting worse and more frequent. In recent weeks, thousands in California have lost their homes due to raging fires.
It seems like we are being sucker punched from every direction at tsunami-like force.
As inclusion advocates what can we do? The issues that we face, require a long-term strategic approach. In the meantime, there are two very specific areas where you can, in your sphere of influence, make a difference.
- Actively Address Voter Suppression
We encourage you to get involved with voting rights initiatives. This election is too important for anyone not to have access to their voting rights because of covert and overt efforts to keep certain people from the polls. Voter suppression or oppression is real. It is a systematic and calculated strategy fueled by fearmongering, gerrymandering, misinformation (lies), and many other “legal” tactics designed to keep Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), low income earners and younger people from voting.
- Encourage your organization to make election day a paid day off.
- Use your voice inside and outside your organization to advocate for voting rights. This is not partisan politics. It is about fairness, justice and civil rights.
- Volunteer to work the polls and or get others to the polls who may not have transportation.
- Support 2021 redistricting efforts in your state to alleviate gerrymandering.
2. Continue to advocate for anti-Racism Education
The naysayers will not stop. The efforts to denigrate diversity education are not new. However, we have not had such blatant attacks on our work as a President issuing executive orders to ban it. His voice just fuels the flames for other detractors to come forward with the same negative expressions. As you may know, some of the founders and other IAC members have been personally attacked. There is also a movement that has been shared on social media encouraging participants in training sessions to be disrupters in an attempt to derail the training. What can we do?
- Understand the impact of the Executive Orders on your current training.
- Communicate the positive outcomes from the training. How has it changed behaviors?
- Share positive outcomes from anti-racism and other diversity education. Testimonials from participant evaluations can be very powerful.
- Develop internal communications to affirm your organization’s commitment to such education, connecting it to your values.
- Require leaders to communicate with their teams the behaviors that are expected in the training.
- Develop norms for training that include the behaviors that will not be tolerated.
3. Continue to speak out for diversity, equity inclusion and justice
- Publicly lobby against the Executive Orders
- Encourage your leaders to be visible and engaged in supporting DEI.
- Use social media and other platforms to provide counter narratives to the Executive Orders.
- Escalate your organization-wide communications about your values and support of DEI.
None of us knows what the future holds. What we do know is that our mission—“a coalition of organizations and practitioners committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organizations and society… continues to be sorely needed as we navigate unchartered waters and explicit backlash. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We must stay strong, committed and courageous.
Margaret Regan and Andrea Cisco, The FutureWork Institute and iMCI
Howard Ross and Leslie Traub, Udarta Consulting
Mary-Frances Winters, The Winters Group