We’re ten days into a new Gregorian year and the resolutions are starting to get tested. The runners are still on the road, the gym goers are still on the bench, and the billionaires are still questioning DEI.
Well, the start of 2024 took an unusual turn last week when everyone’s favourite X, Elon Musk, got into discussions online with fellow billionaire, Bill Ackman, about how and why DEI needs to DIE. The commentary has been doing the rounds on Linkedin, so we’re not going to dwell on it too much beyond the curious observation of how the headlines get whipped up.
DEI has gradually become some form of bogeyman, in some way a source of the world’s woes - according to billionaires, that is. Ackman and Musk were joined by Lululemon founder, Chip Wilson, who said the move to cater the sportswear brand’s goods to more audiences was unnecessary. The share price and those who work in the company didn’t think so.
Billionaires aside, what can we expect in 2024 when it comes to DEI? Well, we dusted off our crystal ball (last seen in 2022) and gathered our unmistakable crew together. Bringing a mix of lived expertise (the combination of lived experience and multi-disciplinary professional expertise), we have landed on three ways we’re going to continue accelerating inclusion in 2024. It all comes down to what we’re going to leave behind in 2023.
1. 2024: the year we don’t read all about it
A number of our team are going to address the way they consume news. For our Managing Director, Simone Marquis, it’s about rebalancing bias. “I’m leaving behind misinformation and disinformation,” she says. “It’s hard to know what news sources remain trustworthy, but this is critical in mitigating bias in our own points of view. I stay committed to diligently fact-checking and triangulating knowledge and data.”
A member of our team who is all about data and knowledge triangulation is Principal Consultant, Cathia Randrianarivo. She wants to leave behind “news sources and media outlets that use ‘a position of neutrality’ as a core value when reporting on human lives and human rights. It’s human-first journalism or it’s getting binned.” Changing media consumption behaviour is on Project Manager Joe O’Connor’s priority list, too. They added:
“I’m leaving behind only using ‘traditional’ sources of the news as the true facts. I see so much real time information on social media that never seems to be picked up by traditional news sources.”
Also heading to the bin is doomscrolling, which is a key aspect our CEO, Asad Dhunna, wants to leave behind. He adds: “I’m leaving behind the feeling that I need to keep up with all the political uncertainty minute-by-minute. Instead I’m going to meditate and pray more in the time that I would mindlessly scroll through reel after reel.” For Associate Chynna Rhooms, a change in news consumption is about mental health. “I’m leaving behind being overly reactive to news headlines. The pandemic has given me the impetus to be informed on world news but has also heightened my anxiety,” she adds.
2. 2024: confidence through insights
When we explore the vibe we expect in the new year, we’re seeing insight and intuition coming together. After five years of accelerating inclusion, winning awards and embedding positive change and business results, it’s time for a levelling up. Our team is feeling this in how they’re going to be guided by both insight and intuition in the new year. Chynna made it clear this is part of her MO for the year, saying “I’m leaving behind second-guessing myself. We’re often our worst critics but at what point do we hold ourselves accountable? 2024 is all about following my intuition.”
Fellow Associate, Eli Keery, felt the same:
“I am leaving behind not advocating for yourself. Amidst chaos with the culture wars and erosion of freedoms we have been experiencing in the UK, as a young man I resolve to more proudly and openly keep on fighting for a more equitable and knowledgeable society to the many unique and immense issues plaguing our world.”
This confidence is loud and clear for Inclusion Consultant, Amani Saeed. They added, “I’m leaving behind entertaining ignorant personal questions when I share that I’m queer and Muslim. If you’re coming at me with ‘how can you be both?’ read any story from @thequeermuslimproject to get a sense of just how many of us there are - and how we’re finding joy and beauty in our communities.”
For Principal Consultant Selina Kotecha, confidence is coming from addressing guilt and how that affects how she works.
“I am leaving behind mum guilt. I am stretched in different directions all the time and cannot always do things the way I would like, but my best is good enough and trusting my instincts is my key enabler.”
3. 2024: the year of DEI with impact
When we discussed our client work, it’s clear that the year ahead is an unapologetic one. Asad set the scene by stating: “In 2024, I’m not bringing in any apologies about the need for DEI in a business context. The results from the most recent McKinsey report and our work are clear, and it’s just the way the world is going. We can’t get distracted by clickbait headlines, we’ve got to remember that accelerating inclusion makes good business sense.” Inclusive Communications Director Shilpa Saul added: “I’m leaving behind working with people who aren’t really walking their own talk when it comes to the DEI agenda.”
For Selina, it’s about applying thought and sophistication in the approach. She said:
"I want to leave behind putting people in single boxes, we are all more than one characteristic, we are complex and fluid and need to be recognised as individuals as well as the way in which we choose to identify.”
This sentiment was shared by Eli, who added, “DEI issues involve people and people are very complicated. They and their issues can’t be described totally in a single sentence or statistic; we should treat them with the level of detail they deserve.”
Impact is top of the agenda for Simone, who said that deflection and distraction need to be addressed. “When there are endless questions that keep being revisited, it’s time to hold the mirror up and call it out. Let’s focus on the impact!”
Chynna’s thoughts on where we go next encourage us to look back in order to look forward. Her parting words:
“We need to leave behind conversations of DEI that involve the murder of George Floyd. The senseless murder of a human being should be a catalyst, not a founding reason for your DEI strategy. Where are you now in 2024?”
If you’re curious to get our take on what you could be doing with your DEI strategy and plan in 2024, then why not get in contact?