The world has heard much about “making America great again” of late, but more often than not, this message has been delivered in ways that do more to divide than unite us. The missive is usually fraught with racialized and xenophobic language that exploits ignorance and cultural incompetence, and inspires distrust and fear; fear of that and those which hold the most potential to lead us into new an more innovative era of harmony, productivity, competitiveness, and global leadership. Indeed, according to Sophia Kerby of the Center for American Progress, “as our nation becomes more diverse, it is crucial that institutions reflect this diversity. Our growing communities of color are America’s future, and it is important that we not only prepare people of color as future leaders, but that we also expose all” people and professionals to diversity and inclusion programming and training to ensure that our institutions, particularly schools, are prepared to make “America more competitive in an increasingly global economy.”
For this reason, most American faith-based institutions, schools, colleges, and businesses have hired consultants and created positions and entire offices to ensure that privilege, diversity, equity, and inclusion are defined, firmly rooted, measured, and celebrated within their organizational culture. Human resource and Title IX offices are not enough. As Damon A. Williams and Katrina C. Wade-Golden argue in What Is a Chief Diversity Officer, “where others work on issues of diversity as a matter of second or third priority, [consultants and] chief diversity officers engage matters of diversity as a matter of first-priority.”
It is imperative, therefore, that organizations that wish to be relevant and successful, create opportunities for their employees to take their place on the front lines of learning and performing in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. They must preparing policies and disciplinary procedures that are effective and culturally appropriate. However, whether it be a keynote presentation that augments current efforts, overseeing more targeted and thematic series of workshops and training sessions, administering the kick-off of something new and more sustainable, or creating an entire office and sustained effort to ensure that their organizations are trailblazers and torchbearers in this area, institutions that want healthy, vibrant, and highly productive cultures, must seek outside assistance in becoming an exemplar of cultural consciousness and inclusion.
Dr. Matthew C. Whitaker is the Founder and CEO of the Diamond Strategies, LLC (DSC). He is also an award-winning educator, author, community engagement specialist, motivational speaker, and founder the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, winner of the 2014 Arizona Diversity Leadership Alliance Inclusive Workplace Award, at Arizona State University. He can be followed on Twitter at @Dr_Whitaker and DSC can be followed on Twitter at @dstategiesllc