IBIS shares news, insight and best practices about pressing Diversity & Inclusion and Unconscious Bias topics in today’s workplace.

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Is Diversity and Inclusion Political?

With the largest election in American history drawing to a close this month, talking about politics at work isn’t getting any easier.

Talking about the core values of diversity, equity and inclusion, however, is more important than ever.

Our clients sometimes ask us:

Is talking about diversity inherently political?

If someone is a DEI champion, does that mean they can’t vote Republican?

Do inclusive values exclude conservative voices?

No, no, and no!

Diversity, equity and inclusion are core values for any democracy. Everyone in the United States can take pride in creating a culture that invites and supports voices, and each voice counts in determining our leaders, community norms, and global purpose.

For example, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” includes all Black lives, whether they belong to people who are conservative or liberal. When advocates fight for gender parity, it includes empowerment and fair pay for all women—regardless of their political affiliation.

That’s why supporters of DEI can span the political spectrum. While identities are unarguably politicized when beholden to Supreme Court debates, and the personal is often political, it’s the value of inclusion that does not belong to any affiliation. There’s no fundamental reason why protecting and supporting entire races of people should be linked to a particular political party. In fact, it’s just part of American democracy.

And yet, integrating this reality into your work culture is easier said than done.

While one of our clients was challenged when employees at an inclusion seminar wore MAGA hats, another client struggled with the conversation after leaders questioned whether an employee’s Black Lives Matter shirt was appropriate attire for an internal presentation.

In each case, dialogue followed that highlighted inclusion as a core cultural value. While there are no easy answers, recognizing when employees are provoked and guiding dialogue that acknowledges those feelings is an important part of building a diverse workspace.

To create and shape organizations that can embrace inclusion—and deliver relevant products and services for consumers well into the future—requires action now to ensure that everyone within the organization has the chance to contribute.

If potential contributors are needlessly missing opportunities to share at their fullest, the organization (and everyone invested in it) loses.

If the values, mission, and vision of your organization don’t align with DEI core values, or if leaders are concerned that DEI values are attached to one political outlook and the risk of alienating some employees is too great, IBIS can help develop communication and training to support your inclusive culture.

Engaging and creating DEI champions is the surest way to shaping organizations that hire, develop and promote diverse and inclusive talent and promote products and services that meet the needs of a future America.

Cedar Pruitt is a Senior Consultant at IBIS specializing in leadership and culture that allows everyone to thrive, whether it’s at a competitive university, mid-size financial firm, an innovative start-up, or something completely different.