…because some thoughts are worth remembering
I was invited as a keynote speaker for the National Association of State Energy Officials convening for its Energy Policy Outlook 2020 Conference. My “mission impossible” was to address diversity and inclusion in energy policy. I was to have 20 min. while the attendees ate their final meal together on the last day of a week long conference.
The time limit and competing with the clanking of silverware are obstacles, to be sure, but with Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) work, the kicker is that if one succeeds in illustrating the key points, the audience will leave the room feeling hostile (at the speaker), angry (at the world), guilty (at the level of privilege they didn’t ask for, but have unknowingly benefited from) or utterly bummed (in general).
The “what” is not as important as “why” and the “how”. But everyone “just want to know what to do”. My approach for this engagement was to tell a story, an allegory, to illustrate that we are all in it together, and how easily we confuse symptoms and the victims/the marginalized with the root cause. [The allegory of The Ship & The Leak will be another blog post.]
But I had to give them something they can take home, more than a feeling and a mindset. So I prepared a 7 point plan for a DEI framework.
A 7 Point Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Framework
1. Learn the Language of DEI
2. Define “we” as large and inclusive as possible
3. Design with the most marginalized and vulnerable in mind
4. I before D (focus on inclusion first before diversity)
5. Integrate, not segregate
6. Approach with abundant humility
(Our world would not have steps because most of us are ambulatory bipeds, if we were all born without legs, our architecture would have been optimized differently; therefore, our decision to create steps made folks without legs disabled)
7. USE our privilege
Will we? As Audre Lorde observed, the master’s tools will not dismantle the master’s house. The above 7 point plan shows why we haven’t made significant progress in DEI: it is counterintuitive at best (where our good intentions based on our own narrow experiences can be hurting others) and it takes courage (to actively reject a system that has been serving us well, albeit at the expense of others).
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work demands broad lens and long term vision; its implementation, with collaboration and cooperation; its approach, nonpartisan and scientific. I can’t think of anyone better than policy officials to be the architect of a more inclusive system.
Godspeed, our policy makers.
Interested in how to apply the framework?
Contact yuka at excitedcuriosity dot org.
Photo: National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.