Organizations are opportunity centers for individuals with varying talents, goals, and perspectives on work, service, and connections. In my consulting experiences, largely focused on change in organizations through a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), I have also drawn conclusions about the mutual interdependence of people and organizations as they engage interdependently to thrive. I provide a few examples.

  • When I think about employers, their goals are to advance their purpose, business plans and products so that they can achieve particular metrics, generally financial. People’s commitment, participation, and performance are necessary to achieve planned outcomes. And these people bring a composite of diverse talents, aspirations, experiences, competencies, and personal backgrounds. Through teamwork and support, I have witnessed individuals apply their different composite of assets to support an organization’s desired outcomes. 
  • Another space that brings people together from different personal backgrounds, interests, and identities is nonprofits. These are employers, but as well, organizations led by boards and committees of volunteers. Nonprofits stand on their mission and values, and generally are dedicated to serve particular populations and draw in volunteers with these interests. On these boards, participation is essential, and leaders depend on the volunteers to achieve the organization’s plans. Once again, individuals with particular experiences and backgrounds can support nonprofits financially or through their connections. However, inviting someone to the board because of their identity (i.e., LGBTQIA or Latinx) requires genuine attention by the board leaders to their skills, not their identity alone, to achieve the individual’s participation.
  • We have also consulted to leaders of professional membership organizations. As with the nonprofits cited above, these organizations have employees but also constituencies, generally across the country and in different professional settings. These members depend on the organization to lobby on their behalf, provide education programs, and otherwise foster their sense of professionalism. There is mutual interdependence among these three tiers and to thrive, all parts of the organization need to be connected and supported and believe their voices will be heard.

Concluding thoughts

The themes in this blog are people, participation, performance, and interdependence. In this era of anti-DEIB rhetoric, we may reframe our language but not necessarily our thinking. I suggest leaders review and appreciate the outcomes of DEIB-related efforts. If purposefully designed, they yielded positive outcomes. As leaders, maintaining our focus on the intention of DEIB initiatives and programs needs to remain a priority because they are designed to contribute to shared outcomes for people, the organizational mission for success, and the common good.