DEI Trends & How to Navigate them with Grace
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
By Jess Pettitt
Moving Forward: When time moves at a different pace
Experiencing time differently even within the same hour?
What about since you have been sheltering in place? Had any significant perspective changes like my friend Randy Gage? How can we have so many epiphanies at the same time that we are experiencing what seems like the movie Groundhog Day? Time does feel fast and slow, and it is up to us to move forward with these learning lessons.
Time Before Shelter-in-Place
Imagine being sat for dinner at a restaurant that just opened. It may seem like fifteen minutes go by in the five minutes it takes to engage with the serving staff. Perhaps you have gotten a parking ticket for an errand that surely would only take a minute?
Maybe you have also experienced six hours disappearing in what was only a few episodes of a binge-watch, a great conversation, or letting a newborn sleep on your chest between feedings.
Time can go much faster and then slower for others as well as in your 24-hour period of time. It can ebb and flow willing, unconsciously, or in sync with another at that moment. This is the time we are dealing with when talking about moving forward.
DEI Trends Then and Now
When thinking about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) trends, time can be just as elastic-like. Often organizations stretch their strategic plans to include the increase of demographic diversity using metrics or perhaps internal Employee Resource Groups or Affinity Groups are formed to foster inclusive spaces and identity or experience-based communities. It is the Equitable work that is often elusive, like time. When not alone, or one of few, it is likely to feel included and that inclusion can stretch towards equitable opportunity. Then with one turn of phrase, interruption, disruption, subtle (or not) action the underlying inequities can squeeze and compound hours into seconds.
We must embrace that at any given moment we could be experiencing that very moment at a different pace and with various distractions that may or may not be apparent. Doing the best one can, with what we have currently, some of the time, allows for the grace of this variant of time.
Moving forward is both an acknowledgment of when and where we are together and a commitment to where we are going together. This is grace.
I was reminded of this, space for grace, as my partner and I, were connecting over sandwiches at the kitchen counter between Zoom meetings and his course work. I am baffled that it is almost June which means, I have “sheltered in place” for more than 10 weeks. He is confused as to why it seems that the end of the semester lesson plans seem rushed and incomplete when it has been taught before many times. While we are experiencing time differently, I was reminded of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Follow me here…
I was a History/Secondary Education Major in College, eventually teaching US History. Every US History class went similarly in that at the end of the course everything from the Korean War to close to present-day was squeezed into the last week before finals. Finally, I had one professor that on the first day of the class asked for our permission to teach history backward because he was bored. Um, Sure?!? We started at Desert Storm, which was happening we met in class, and slowly went step by step back through time. It was, and as of today at lunch, continues to be fascinating that playing with time in this manner underscored the lessons we as a government hadn’t learned previous lessons let alone changed our behaviors to align with a common moral standard of who and how we wanted to be in the world.
Confusing the Korean and the Vietnam Wars isn’t just a shout out to how bad at Geography most of us are, but that playing with the pace of time conflates real lessons to the point that we can write a story that we have learned a lesson and are better for it.
Going backward uncovered just how naïve that pretense is and became the foundation for all of my social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion work to date.
Some will have lost friends and family, others will have only experienced this global pandemic as an interruption on television. Let’s be honest, we will all be excited to get a haircut, dine-in, or go to a movie again if we are alive and healthy on the other side of this <waves arms around frantically>. We can use this time to make some decisions about who and how we have been and where we want to be going moving forward.
Perhaps this time can be a moment of reflection, to learn the lessons we haven’t learned, draw attention to the realities we have turned our attention from, and determine who and how we want to be doing just that – moving forward.
We are in this together, at our own pace, with our expectations, experiences, learnings, and lessons yet to be learned. Moving Forward, this will be a spot for you to come and stop, breathe, reflect, and find a kernel of assistance, support, dare I say thought-provoking humor to do just that – move forward.
When playing with time – remember these few time-traveling tips:
To successfully move forward – you must go backward
Looking backward will uncover what you knew all along
Lead with grace, and do the best you can with what you have some of the time
Remember they are trying to
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Jess Pettitt has stirred up Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion based conversations for decades with a strong dose of humor, and is an avid hand washer. (see what I did there?) ☺ For more information, visit: JessPettitt.com or click here.
Jess Pettitt, M.Ed., CSP, has always had a foot in two different approaches to her life. Perhaps it is her Texas roots, but she believes to thrive in this world you have to ride two horses at once – one of humility and one of ego.
This is why while hosting and performing stand-up in NYC she also worked as a diversity and inclusion specialist as a day job. She quit her day job after a decade and almost 20 years later still uses humor to deliver actionable content related to everything you ever wanted to know about where leadership and diversity collide but are afraid to ask. Though often referred to as a thought leader, Jess responds that she just makes leaders think.
For Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work to stick, the first step is a conversation that matters about what you don’t know you don’t know then you can do the best you can with what you have some of the time without getting sued, losing talent, or failing customers.
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