I recently participated in the annual panel discussion of the Explorers conference. With me was Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the wife of former representative Elijah Cummings. She was amazing, we all had a really important and relevant conversation of ethics and DE&I, diversity, ethics and inclusion policies with organizations, institutions, universities, and within government. We talked a lot about how policies that are just rhetoric don’t mean anything, whether you’re talking about ethics or DE&I. The reason why these two things really intersect is because you can’t have a DE&I conversation without having a conversation about ethics and values. Ethics and Values are really where it’s at when it comes to driving policy.
If you’re just having a value that you put on your website, or rhetoric that’s slapped on the wall, leadership is not living those values (and they are not actionable values), and your teams aren’t seeing their leaders behave in a way that lives those values, it means nothing. So first we need to have a conversation about how do these values manifest within our organization. Once we can get past that and create values that are lived and breathed and daily acted on and behaved on, then we can talk about DE&I. Then courageous conversations that need to happen will happen. These are very difficult conversations: when bad decisions have been made or mistakes have been made. When conversations need happen about redemption or cleaning a mess up. Having conversations about DE&I is hard and it’s not something that any of us are trained to do.
As an Indian woman have had to deal with a lot of hard issues within my own culture on how these issues arose within India, within my culture, within my family, within my community, and how they have played out in my life. To have these conversations we need to be open minded and have a feeling of psychological safety.
At the end of the day, all of these ethics DE&I policies all create a higher ROI. It’s going to drive ROI at a company. We are all trying to increase and grow the ROI of our companies, to have long-term growth, to have long-term sustainability, to have an impact in our communities in a positive way where we can give back. Let’s talk about how ethics and values intersect with DE&I. Let’s move the needle forward and have the conversations we need to have about these issues.