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. Part II detailed the Strategic/Explicit quadrant — the visible, tangible strategic work. Now we move to the Strategic-Implicit to focus on culture.
Both Quadrants I & II are focused on the long-term, but where the former is about the explicit measures, systems & policies, the latter is about people & culture. While systems, measures, and policies will support DEI work, cultures will not change without focused efforts on the people-side. We can have the most elegant strategic plans, but if people are not on board, those plans are meaningless. To build buy-in, leaders will need strong emotional intelligence and cultural intelligence skills to “read the room” and engage people in change efforts.
A school is made up of many stakeholder and cultural groups. While we may be well-intentioned, societal norms of __-ism are affecting us. So we have multiple considerations around the school culture and the wider social culture:
- How aligned are people within various stakeholder groups (e.g., board, admin, staff)?
- How aligned are we across these various groups?
- Are people from marginalized groups present (diversity), do they have what they need (equity), do they feel like they are part of the conversation (inclusion), and do they feel this is their school (belonging)?
- If there are few people from a particular group in any room, what is their lived experience (For example, to be the only Black person at the Admin meeting, to be the only openly Trans person on the board)?
While these are difficult questions, school leaders will quickly find that the Quadrant I work will go nowhere if the culture isn’t ready.
Strategic/Implicit: Here, the focus is building relationships within the community, aligning stakeholder groups (e.g., DEI committee members, board, student leaders, alumni, faculty, staff, and administrators). This quadrant is about the unspoken norms that shape the culture and the “way we do things here,” and the institutional emotional intelligence — moving away from a transactional, mechanistic model that might be a trap in…