A Gemisode™ Series – Part I
“Do or do not. There is no try.” -Yoda
In the more than 40 years since Yoda first uttered those words in The Empire Strikes Back, they still hold true today—we either commit to AJEDI-B™ Mastery, or we don’t.
Recently, we heard an organization proudly state, “We have a very diverse client base, in fact, [it’s] more diverse than our competitor set! What’s more, our product success and satisfaction rate is 86%.” But, when we asked how the success and experience rates were broken down across demographic categories within their client base, the response was, “Oh. We haven’t dug into that level.” This response begs the question: What exactly is being measured, for whom and why?
As companies are paying more attention (or lip service) to diversity, especially in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, the January 6th Insurrection, the Atlanta spa shooter who targeted Asian woman, and most recently, the white supremacist shooter in Buffalo, NY, it’s no wonder that terms like JEDI (and we’re not talking about Star Wars) have slowly been creeping into the collective consciousnesses and lexicons of companies and people alike.
The established explanation for the acronym JEDI is Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion whereas DEI, the more commonly used term, stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. At Chapter tOO, we believe that Accessibility and Belonging are critical and as such, refer to our model as AJEDI-B™, Accessibility, Justice, Empathy, Diversity, and Inclusion, without which there is no true Belonging. Furthermore, AJEDI-B™ highlights that without having accessibility in focus through the intentional “dismantling of barriers to resources and opportunities”, DEI efforts are ineffective as they become annoyingly performative at best, and outrageously harmful at worst. Lastly, and as you might have noticed, our “E” intentionally and distinctly stands for Empathy. Why is that? Simply put, we believe that in the absence of empathy, people are not intrinsically motivated to create equitable conditions.
With so much activity and attention on DEI lately, beyond the performative statements and donations, are companies actually doing any better in relation to developing deeper competence in this space? A May 2021 article on measuring inclusion in the workplace by the Harvard Business Review, stated, “There’s no doubt that in 2021 and beyond, companies will continue to devote more attention and resources to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Unfortunately, many organizations still struggle to measure the impact of their strategies and communicate that impact to a growing number of stakeholders.”
Yikes – truth hurts!
With AI, data capture, and analytical tools widely available, why are companies struggling to measure strategy impact and then communicate that impact effectively? Good question! Our belief is that part of the problem lies in the fact that organizations are often too eager to highlight and celebrate ‘progress’ based on one component of the DEI acronym, specifically diversity. Merriam-Webster defines diversity as “the inclusion of people of different races, cultures, etc. in a group or organization”. In sum, ‘diversity’ has become an exercise of count.
Why do so many organizations and companies choose to view diversity simply as a count of ‘represented numbers’ while failing to address and develop measurable strategies?
The answer is complex, yet simple, and one many would not readily acknowledge —it’s easier. Picking and choosing what feels easier is grounded in comfort and as people, we are wired for comfort and stability. Sadly, what we fail to realize is that our craving for comfort stunts our growth and leads to treating the all encompassing work and impact measurement of DEI like a numbers-driven checkbox of virtue, rather than a deeply integrated, personal, and system challenging life-long journey.
Narrowing diversity to a who’s who numbers game is dangerous and damaging. Choosing to do so is a MACRO-aggression (large scale and overt towards whole classes or groups) because companies, organizations and brands know how to use and spin these numbers to create narratives in their favor. Manipulated narratives are often at the expense of those whose truths and experiences are inconvenient or unflattering to acknowledge. Playing the numbers game and insisting on metrics grounded in manipulated fairytales is a glaring example of an unchecked system of harm meant to uphold and perpetuate the very supremist systems and structures that DEI seeks to address. In summation, performative culture is not coincidental, just ask the internet.
Without the activation of and commitment to AJEDI™, there can be no Belonging. Belonging is critical to actualizing work environments that honor the humanity of all employees, while centering the lived experiences of those who are systematically silenced and tokenized.
Stay tuned for part II of this Gemisode™ series! Through the lens of AJEDI-B™, we lay out steps for organizations and others serious about embarking on this journey.
If your organization is ready to become grounded in the principles in AJEDI-B™ and learn about our other proprietary trainings, check out the descriptions here and then get in touch with us here.