What’s the Real Plan for DEI? Part II | 5 Min Read

By Joshua Freedman CEO, Six Seconds and Michael Eatman PCC, Founder, Culture7 Coaching

Part I of What’s The Real Plan for DEI was an overview of the key issues associated with building a comprehensive DEI program at your school. We identified four quadrants that illustrate both the strategic and programming steps, those explicit to your constituents and implicit to your community (where the rubber meets the road). In this segment, we’ll focus on the first quadrant where the school focuses on strategy and metrics. A key point from the first article: We need all four quadrants!

Quadrant 1 is all about the longer-term implications of your DEI initiative. How will you build the institutional foundation that supports the programmatic initiatives you introduce to increase your school’s emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) for diversity, equity, and inclusion? You’ll be thinking about the potential obstacles you might encounter, and the impact of your new vision on long-standing traditions at the school (such as admissions policies, budget constraints, programmatic assumptions, and fund-raising priorities).

Once you develop a strategy that links your DEI program to the school mission, you’ll want to develop the metrics that tell you whether your program is meeting the objectives you set. This is where schools have traditionally lacked guidance and fallen short. Most metrics focus on the inputs to the process, such as hiring decisions, demographics of the student body and faculty, and numbers of workshops delivered. Those metrics look great in marketing materials but often don’t have much of an impact on the community. Measuring outputs might result from surveys, focus groups, and inclusion tests throughout school programs, with the goal of demonstrating a change in the mindset of the community, their resulting changes in vocabulary and attitude, and testimonials/confirmation that life has changed for the better throughout the school community. If you’re moving forward effectively, the climate is improving and even the most marginalized people in your community will see and feel it.

Strategic/Explicit: In this quadrant, the focus is on building long-term alignment around key concepts — such as integrating DEI language into the school’s mission, defining metrics, and making progress visible.

Key elements: Assessment (using validated, normed tools in a consistent way), a two- to three-year plan linked to strategy, budget, organizational design (roles, responsibilities), auditing policies, procedures, curriculum, etc. Developing policies and procedures that will hold the school community accountable to its diversity goals.

What’s helpful: By explicitly linking DEI work to strategy, there’s a map and a tool for engaging stakeholders, and for justifying changes (including reallocating budget). Without this explicit strategic work, DEI efforts can become short-term and vague. 

What’s risky: Doing too much work in this quadrant, too fast, can actually increase resistance. A Head of School, for example, might be pushed or pushing to re-align the budget to a new strategy without having sufficient readiness on the board and in other groups (which happens on the left side of the chart). Too much focus on strategy could also lead to a kind of “virtue signaling” where a school is doing big talk without the required action (i.e., from the bottom half of the chart). Some schools will get caught in the, “we can’t take action until we have the perfect plan” trap. This quadrant is essential AND this is an iterative process.

Questions to answer: 

  1. In what ways is equity central to our vision vs. a distraction or unrelated to our vision?
  2. How do we know if we are making progress on equity, and how do people in our community see the progress we’re making on equity?
  3. What systems & policies are in place to support people to work toward the vision, and where are there gaps that can be filled in the next three years?

A particular challenge in DEI work is that, historically, the decision-makers have been predominantly white and male. These factors, combined with oppression in all areas of life, keep our current systems operating in sync with a reality that normalizes inequity.  We are all deeply impacted and shaped by these pervasive societal inequities. Both the more privileged, and people who are targeted by these systems, are affected. This means our plans and measures will be flawed. Rather than falling into the norms of perfectionism, we can choose to embrace these flaws and recommit to being learners; to do so requires careful listening. One of the best ways to move forward is to ensure that stakeholders who are most marginalized have a voice in this planning. The best plans will be continuously evolving as we all grow.

Following is the recording of the first webinar discussing Quadrant I:

The next article in this series continues the focus on strategy (top half of the quadrants) but shifts to the implicit side: what type of community will you build over the next three to five years? How will you build the trust and connectedness to support the ongoing work of equity? How will people nourish and support one another to persevere on this marathon? What will it feel like to be part of that community, especially for those who currently feel as outsiders? How well will the community buy into the goals and expectations for the future of your school community?

Part 1: Overview of “What’s the Real Plan for DEI?”

Part 2: Quadrant 1: Strategy/Explicit — The school focuses on strategy and metrics.

Part 3: Quadrant 2: Strategy/Implicit — The school focuses on building relationships within the community.

Part 4: Quadrant 3: Programming/Implicit — The school focuses on the “heart work” — developing inner resources.

Part 5: Quadrant 4: Programming/Explicit — The school focuses on teaching concepts, behaviors, and skills.

About the authors

Joshua Freedman CEO, Six Seconds
Josh is one of the pioneers in the field of emotional intelligence; he cofounded Six Seconds in 1997, is the bestselling author of At the Heart of Leadership and five other books and six validated psychometric assessments on EQ, and contributor to many EQ programs including Coaching Equity Essentials. He’s also an instructor at Columbia Teachers College SPA administrative credential program; he is cocreator of the world’s largest social emotional learning program, POP-UP Festival ­— in partnership with UNICEF World Children’s Day, bringing skills for emotional wellbeing to millions of children & adults in 200+ countries.

Michael Eatman PCC, Founder, Culture7 Coaching
Michael is an experienced inclusion strategist, educator and coach. His credentials include Certified Diversity Professional for Organizational Leadership from Diversity Training University International, Preferred Partner and Certified EQ Advanced Practitioner from Six Seconds EQ Network, and Advanced Certified Personal & Executive Coach by the College of Executive Coaching. He’s also an instructor at Columbia Teachers College SPA administrative credential program and a leader in the Coaching Equity movement.

DEI Vital Signs Framework

Six Seconds Educational Vital Signs tools equip your school or district to answer essential questions: What is the current social and emotional climate in your classroom, school or district? How does that impact learning? Are the perceptions of the key stakeholders – teachers, parents and students – consistent or divergent? And how can you leverage EQ to create a thriving school climate?

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