I was pleasantly surprised by a new client whose team asked at our kickoff meeting two questions I rarely get. What are your expectations of us in doing this work? And how can we help you be successful? For me, this type of humility and curiosity is a wonderful start.
Above my desk, I keep a small piece of paper I call My Conditions For Success. The questions center around the conditions that most greatly impact my ability to be successful as a DEI practitioner in organizations. These conditions are both concrete (they are tied to my values) and fluid which allows them to shift as I shift on my own journey.
In no particular order the questions I ask myself before engaging with a client are:
- Does this organization have a clear why for engaging in DEI work?
- Have they committed a dedicated yearly budget to DEI?
- Is the leadership team bought into DEI and committed to doing the work alongside the team?
- Are they open to feedback from a Black woman?
- Do we operate from a place of shared values and principles around DEI?
- Does this organization prioritize accountability along with results?
Having a better sense of the mindset readiness of which organizations are approaching the work helps me align with groups where I can best be of service. It provides the client and myself a chance to inquire further and decide if we are a match before we engage in a year-long relationship and positions us both to be able to do our best work.
These conditions for success do not equate to the perfect screening formula however, they have sharpened my clarity and provided a north star in deepening the impact I seek to have in organizations.
What are the conditions or criteria that you find important in driving DEI impact as an organization engaged in the work?