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5 Foundational DEI Concepts

Actualizado: 6 jul 2023

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are popular ideas. Following the social justice movements of 2020 businesses, organizations, and communities are taking action to ensure a more just world. We can get there by ensuring the work being done is based on these important foundational concepts.

1. DEI work is not linear. Because humans are complex beings and because our societies are also complex, we must realize the journey to promote diversity and inclusion will not always be linear. Just like anything else that requires behavior change, there will be ups and downs, steps forwards and backwards, as we move towards the ultimate goal of creating a more just world. We must lean into the uncertainty that naturally comes with doing DEI work and embrace learning and adapting as part of this journey. We must extend ourselves and others grace so we can continue to make progress together.

2. A growth mindset is needed. In health care we pride ourselves on being lifelong learners. This is essential to ensuring we can pivot along with the constantly changing landscape of health care. When doing DEI work we must be willing to constantly learn about ourselves and about the lived experiences of those who encounter discrimination and bias. We must avoid fixed mindsets that lead us to think we have diversity, equity, and inclusion figured out.

3. Long term commitment is essential. Working to create health equity requires culture change, and culture change takes time, especially when the work involves deconstructing a long history of inequity. The literature shows that significant culture change within organizations takes, on average, 5 years. We must recognize that D&I work is a marathon and not a sprint.

4. The work begins within us. An effective and authentic journey towards diversity, equity, and inclusion begins with self-examination and self-reflection. Individuals in the field of health care must be willing to look inwardly and consider how they contribute to injustices and inequities within this system. Organizations must put their own house in order first and look at internal work processes and policies to determine whether they are just and address any areas where injustice, discrimination, or exclusion are being consciously or unconsciously encouraged.

5. Psychological safety is key. Practicing diversity, equity, and inclusion is an act of courage. Getting up every morning and being intentional about checking our own biases; practicing compassionate relationships with those who are different like us, requires us to be humble, vulnerable, and courageous. For courage to grow psychological safety must be present. Psychological safety refers to creating an atmosphere where people can participate in interactions that are authentic and harm-free. We need to create environments where people are able to communicate openly but that have guardrails that protect hearts and minds. This will help us have the dialogues that will eventually lead all of us to discover how our commonalities and differences enrich us. It will help us begin to understand the importance of valuing everyone for who they are.

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