I recently heard an apt analogy* for diversity, equity, and inclusion work: that it’s akin to good dental hygiene.
To take care of your teeth, you brush and floss daily, and go to the dentist regularly. Similarly, for diversity, equity, and inclusion work to be successful and meaningful, it must be an ongoing and daily practice.
Having one conversation, reading one article, or even hosting one all-day meeting isn’t enough. Just like going to the dentist one time won’t do much of anything for a lifetime of healthy teeth, the “one and done” approach is also inapplicable to meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion work.
What’s more, engaging in diversity, equity, and inclusion work is your responsibility (and especially for all of us in education). Diverse teams are powerful teams, and in education where we serve a racially, culturally, and socioeconomically diverse student population, it is critical that our teams are similarly diverse and that we continually have conversations about, and take action relating to, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In the leadership development training our EP Fellows receive, we talk a lot about diversity, equity, and inclusion. In the spirit of helping more people get started, I want to share some of the resources we’ve used in our curriculum:
- Project Implicit out of Harvard University has a series of tests that you can take on implicit bias – race, gender, disability, age, religion, sexuality, and more. It’s a good place to start to understand your own biases (we all have them) and how they might play into your perspective and work.
- Cracking the Codes is a documentary created by World Trust that we piloted with Fellows this summer. It talks about different dimensions of racial injustice, including bias and privilege, and it’s a great tool to get a conversation started. The World Trust site also has a conversation guide that you can download.
- The Unequal Opportunity Race is an excellent 4-minute animated video that uses metaphors to describe the opportunity gap.
As EP has seen since researching and publishing the report From Intention to Action: Building Diverse, Inclusive Teams in Education to Deepen Impact in partnership with Koya Leadership Partners, so many of us are eager to advance our diversity, equity, and inclusion work.
No matter where you’re starting from personally or as an organization, I hope these resources help you take the first step.
(*Shout out and thanks to Sam Simmons from Koya Leadership Partners for the analogy!)
Natasha Jamal is the former Program Manager, Greater Boston for Education Pioneers, where she managed Fellowship and related programming for the Greater Boston area. Natasha is committed to education reform and believes that strong sector leadership and management is key to creating the reform students across the country deserve. She is currently pursuing her MBA at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.