To what end?
I find myself asking this question whenever I hear about a meditation or mindfulness program offered at companies. What is it about a program like that that gets a company to spend its resources on it? To help employees be more mindful? Mindful of what exactly? I remember reading somewhere the idea that if those programs were really effective, it would likely lead people to quitting their jobs as they become more mindful of the ways that they are living — or, most likely, not living — their lives.
I wonder what happens if we dig down into things like this, what do we find? What is the ultimate purpose of these kinds of initiatives?
Right now, the world over, companies are likely thinking about and looking at their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. I find myself wondering this — to what end? What are they about? Really? What should they be about? And would you make them about that even if there is no proven financial benefit for the company?
What is that should1? It’s this: DEI initiatives should be about the liberation of non-white peoples, as well as other groups that are not part of our ‘societal norm’. In this current moment, we are focused on Black people and their ongoing struggle against anti-Black racism and oppression in this country. But we have to remember the oppression of Indigenous peoples, as well as other People of Color. In addition, we have to remember LGBTQIA people. The differently abled. The list could go on, but I think the point is made.
One other thing: DEI initiatives should not be initiatives. They should be practices that get baked into culture. In a recent episode of On Being with Krista Tippet, Resmaa Menakem talks about diversity. “Diversity from what?” he asks2. We need to be able to answer this question, and we can’t do that if we are simply implementing initiatives.
There’s a lot more to say here, but I’ll leave it there. Rather, I’ll leave it with the question I began. We march. We scream. We post on social media. To what end?
What is it that you want to see, my friends? I know what I want to see.