A year ago, when we kicked off our formal work within Mindful Return to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), our diversity consultant advised us to lead with a survey of the working parents in our community. The survey we conducted of our course alumni was instructive, not only for the data it allowed us to gather, but for the gaps it revealed. Even our seemingly-thorough data fields had holes we didn’t see in advance.
Thank goodness for comment boxes and opportunities for open-ended responses. One mama who took the survey noted that it lacked the ability to reveal a family’s potential multiculturalism. This mama, who was White, wanted to be able to include her perspectives as the mom of biracial children, but our questions asking only about her own race and ethnicity did not capture that.
Today, this mama, Cannon-Marie Green, joins us on the Mindful Return blog to share her own compelling case for DEI. Not because she is the mom of biracial children, but because DEI is a tool for achieving great significance and inclusion. Welcome, Cannon-Marie! Thank you for pointing out ways the Mindful Return community can represent an even broader range of perspectives and for your advocacy and passion.
Frequently people assume I am passionate about advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) because my husband is Black and our children are biracial. My family is my reason for everything. And viewing the world through my husband’s experiences has been an education. However, I am not passionate about advancing DEI because of my family.
As a professional and people leader, I believe that understanding the fundamentals for advancing DEI is an important tool in achieving greatness. Hiring someone? DEI best practices teach us to mask personal information on resumes and to conduct structured interviews. Why? So that we can compare candidate answers to the same set of questions.
Writing annual performance evaluations? DEI best practices urge us to learn about how unconscious bias shows up in evaluations. They teach us to create safeguards, so we can equitably evaluate the outcomes and contributions of all of our direct reports.
Assigning work, seeking feedback, elevating colleagues? DEI best practices provide frameworks for ensuring some voices are not favored over others.
Creating content? DEI best practices are the foundations for modern style guides, so the language you use to describe communities is fair and neutral across the board.
Looking for ways to improve how employees engage with their work? DEI best practices increase psychological meaningfulness, safety, and availability. Within safe spaces, people can immerse themselves in their work without distractions or fear of professional harm for making a mistake.
DEI Elevates the Quality of My Work
I am passionate about advancing DEI, because I love working with smart people, and I want to crush the competition. Diverse teams produce high value outcomes. Equitable, inclusive environments empower people to do meaningful work, as their smart, curious, innovative, and confident selves. Advancing DEI and understanding how to use DEI practices as a people leader just make good business sense.
Many leaders express support of DEI programs. They go to trainings. They check the boxes. But, in my opinion, too few of us take the time to reflect on our experiences and privilege. Rather than learning these important skills for ourselves or imbedding expertise in our own departments, we rely on internal DEI experts in HR who work tirelessly to guide us on best practices. We are all busy. But we would not outsource other substantive expertise. Why are we outsourcing these important practical skills?
Far too often, the problem comes down to accountability. Leaders who look like me can end their day and go home without giving a second thought to DEI. Or to their role in actively advancing it within their sphere of influence and decision-making.
So, this is ultimately what I have learned as the wife and mother in a multiracial family, and as the manager of a multigenerational team with diverse lived experiences: You do not need to love someone from a historically excluded community to leave the sidelines and join the cause as an active participant.
4 Practical Steps You Can Take
Here are four ways to more actively show up for DEI efforts:
- Educate yourself about history and the challenges marginalized communities continue to face.
- Learn how to advance DEI and infuse best practices into your daily work. This includes how you attend and conduct meetings, with whom you collaborate, how you view contributions, how you show up as a teammate, and how to be an inclusive leader.
- Push for change in your communities and workplaces. Be loud. Be persistent. And be innovative. Listen to understand and keep educating yourself.
- Mentor a student or young professional from a historically excluded community. Share your playbook for success.
High performing teams do not happen by accident. They require leaders, like you and me, to create professional ecosystems that encourage authentic innovation and collaboration among people with different backgrounds, many of whom face bias that others do not. This is our work to do, and I hope you will join me.
Cannon-Marie Green leads the State Direct Tax Team at Bloomberg Tax & Accounting (BTAX). She and her team are responsible for maintaining and developing expert analysis and technical reference tools about IRC conformity and taxation of corporate income, pass-through entities, individual income, and estates, gifts, and trusts. Cannon-Marie also leads the BTAX Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives, which include a 5-year strategic plan and programming that invites all BTAX colleagues to make meaningful contributions to their shared work. She holds a B.A. from Willamette University, a J.D. from Willamette University College of Law, and a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, children (ages 3 and 1), and housecat, Thomas.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave