They say it’s about the journey, not the destination. But what happens when the journey never ends?
The future of DEI is limitless. In fact, one of the most exciting things about this industry is what the future holds. There is so much room to grow, and evolve, which is what motivates a lot of us at MT Consulting Group.
But the constant change and knowing your journey never ends… that can be a bit more of a struggle.
It’s been freeing to continually learn more and try to be more accepting and inclusive this early into my career, but trying to navigate the DEI landscape is like treading in unknown waters a lot of the time. There are many times I’ve felt stuck on my DEI journey, with so many grey areas and never feeling like you have the “right” answer.
And I know that I’m not alone in that. There are times when the amount you need to learn seems insurmountable; debilitating even. The mountain top feels like it’s getting further and further away. The journey is not for the faint of heart.
The best way I’ve found to get through those times has been reaching out to my community. Hearing different perspectives and ways of knowing can be transformative. Often, I find the expertise and lived experience of those around me bring insight I never could have had myself. Sharing knowledge is how we can continue to grow and get better.
“Start by acknowledging that this journey will take time and effort, and that mistakes will be made along the way,” says Dr. Sky McLaughlin, facilitator and co-Founder. “It’s important to be patient with yourself and others, and to commit to continuous learning and improvement.”
She adds that people need to be responsible for their own learning, and actively seek out resources that can provide guidance and support.
“There are a lot of great books, podcasts, and workshops and trainings. Engage in open and honest conversations with those who have different experiences and perspectives than your own.”
Finally, Sky shares, remember that DEI work is not a one-time task and requires sustained effort and commitment. “Make it a priority in your personal and professional life, and hold yourself accountable for taking action towards creating a more equitable and inclusive world.”
For our blog writer and facilitator Anica, one of the hurdles they needed to overcome was allowing themself to make mistakes.
“I realized I was being very hard on myself whenever I came across something like unconscious biases that I held,” she shares. “It took me a long time to accept the shame and guilt, and I realized that expecting myself to get it right every time was actually a roadblock to progressing in my DEI journey”.
Knowing that your mistakes have the potential to harm others, regardless of intention, is difficult to balance with wanting to continue to make progress, they share. It’s easy to get trapped in that thought and use it as an excuse to not dive deeper or try something new.
“However, holding myself back because I didn’t want to harm people also meant that I wasn’t stretching out of my comfort zone – and that’s the zone where we learn. As a learner, it’s okay to make mistakes.
Recognizing that while I am an educator and am passionate about DEI, I am also an imperfect human and those two are not mutually exclusive. I continue to unlearn the expectation that experts do not make mistakes, and learn to effectively hold myself accountable when I do.”
Claudia, another facilitator, hopes people who are feeling overwhelmed remember that systemic issues have been around for a long time, and that it’s nobody’s fault that they are either advantaged or disadvantaged. “You can succeed by being yourself.”
It’s often said that life’s about the journey, not the destination. And the same is true about DEI.
As human beings, we are dynamic and adaptable and we will continue to grow and change, hopefully for the better. But mistakes are inevitable. If you’re struggling in your DEI journey, that’s okay! It happens to the best of us.
Unpacking bias and confronting your own privilege can be overwhelming. Make sure to take care of your mental health, and remember that this can be part of the journey. The work will always be here for you to come back to.
Systemic problems will not be dismantled in the time it takes you to read a book, or listen to a podcast. They might not even be solved in our lifetime; but as long as we are continuing to do our part, educating ourselves and chipping away at the systems that oppress us all, we will continue to make the world a better, more inclusive place.
If you want to further your DEI journey, check out our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Foundations training, or Coaching, for a safe space to foster growth and learning.
Madisen Gee is a contributing writer at MT Consulting Group.