DEIB: The Fear of Getting it Wrong

HR Professionals, we need to talk.  There is a look that I recognize on the faces of my HR colleagues when I broach the topic of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB). The look that says, “I’m not going to be the one to go there.”  I know this look because I have worn this look myself. 

What I have realized is that “the look” doesn’t come from a lack of recognition of the importance of this unwieldy topic. It comes from the Fear of Getting it Wrong. Instead of getting it wrong, we continue to rely on people who have experienced impacts of lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion to teach us the lessons, to share their expertise, to be the voice instead of being vulnerable, standing up as advocates and allies and doing the damned work ourselves!

I understand where the fear comes from, I feel it too! Workplace implications of messing this up can impact everything from culture to turnover, to harassment and discrimination complaints, to legal liability.  Any one of those impacts is enough to keep an HR person up at night!  However, the organizational and societal impacts of NOT understanding DEIB, of NOT trying to address them, of NOT owning our discomfort and lack of understanding, can be significantly more consequential. 


We need to talk and learn about DEIB topics and issues so that we can figure them out together.  We need to risk getting it wrong so that we can get it right. We can learn from people with both academic and lived experience to guide and propel our learning but that can’t be our only source.  As HR professionals we need to get comfortable with acknowledging the gaps in our understanding and learning, and then learn enough about DEIB to close those gaps.  We need to acknowledge that others experience the world differently. We need to get more comfortable with saying “I’m sorry that I didn’t understand that, that I made assumptions, and that even though I had the best intention, I got it wrong.  I will continue to learn, and I will do better next time."


Join AccessHR on our learning journey as we expand our DEIB portfolio and bring new options to our clients.  We are going there. We are going to ask the questions, and do the research, and consult the experts.  And we are going to get it wrong.  Then we will pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and try again because we ALL have an obligation to figure this out together. 


We’ll be sharing our journey in a number of different ways.  Reach out to start the conversation. Follow us on LinkedIn or sign up for our newsletter.