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Delulu and inclulu: 3 ways to overcome diversity & inclusion delusion

Updated: May 13

Here we are, dissecting the ‘delulu is the solulu’ trend (OK, we’re a few months late and have been accused of Boomer behaviour). If you’re reading this wondering what on earth we’re talking about, watch this:

In short, ‘delulu is the solulu’ became a TikTok trend and the meaning is to set overambitious and unrealistic expectations, and actually believe they can be achieved.

The saying started out in K-pop to describe an over-obsessed fan being deluded that they could become best friends with the band, but now rather than being a fan of others, it’s about being the biggest fan of yourself. 

Now, we’re all for positive thinking and measured manifestations, but for those working in DEI, are we at risk of sleepwalking into delusion right now? As many people review plans, budgets and strategies, could it be that they were unrealistic and never achieved? 

Last year, we uncovered the delusion we’re living through as part of our diversity & confusion report. We found that while we are growing in confidence when it comes to talking ‘professionally’ about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), this isn’t translating down into change. 

In 2021, 31% of the UK workforce said they feel confident talking professionally about DEI and last year this rose to 42%. Much of this increase is down to an increased appetite for learning, with 50% of those surveyed saying they had the opportunity for DEI skills building at work. However, we’ve become a bit stuck - while we know what 'DEI' is, do we all have a shared understanding of what it really means and how it translates to change? 

Over 2023, we saw a lot of discourse and questioning of DEI. We’re entering 2024 with new energy and optimism and we wonder if the cloud of delusion continues to hang over all things DEI. Last year we saw anything progressive be tarnished under the ‘woke’ brush, this year naysayers are going all out on the term ‘DEI’ itself. One paper recently reported that the ‘diversity and inclusion ideology is fast becoming dangerous’, while another gave advice for ‘how to cut through the cacophony over DEI’. 

Based on what we’re hearing and on our lived expertise as consultants, here are three things to navigate potential DEI delulu right now: 

1. Understand how the sentiment around DEI is shaping perceptions

People in our unmistakable circle are telling us that being on top of, and ahead, of the changes in how people are perceiving DEI means they can match the mindset and language of everyone in their organisation. Rather than solely focussing on DEI, they’re seeing their roles as ones of transformation, working with everyone in their organisation to embed inclusive leadership that in turn helps to attract and retain new types of customers and colleagues.

To get there we often fuel them with new news and our analysis of it. This opens up filter bubbles, and means that new conversations are sparked. This leads us to our next piece of advice… 

2. Uncover uncomfortable conversations 

Our CEO Asad Dhunna recently attended Anthropy, a conference that is about inspiring a better Britain. A major theme from the panels was the need to have uncomfortable conversations about what’s going on in the world, and what’s happening within teams and businesses. Sitting with discomfort relies on a healthy organisational culture and a good level of psychological safety where people feel they can make mistakes without fear of repercussions.

To get there we often hold listening sessions and learning sessions that create the right space and dynamics for these conversations to take place. 

3. Unleash a change mindset 

We talked about what DEI really means, and many working in the space are questioning this too. In our view, DEI is actually about transformation - it’s about organisations keeping up with what’s happening in the world, and ensuring they can stay relevant within it. For example, Martin Wolf, the Chief Economics Editor at the Financial Times recently wrote that the demography of the world is changing. Fertility rates have been falling everywhere, and today the highest number of births is in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, its percentage share of the global population may jump by 10 percentage points.

This will have a profound impact on global businesses - both in their colleague make-up as well as their customer profile. It creates the opportunity for diversity, and an underlying need for inclusive cultures so that everyone can thrive.

In light of this, we often support our clients with how they can rewire their systems and processes to create a more inclusive customer experience and a more inclusive customer experience. 

From what we’re seeing right now, staying deluded about DEI is not an option. We need to understand the news, bring it into uncomfortable conversations and ultimately start to rewire based on where the world is heading.

If you’re interested in how we can help, get in touch. If you’re still wondering about what delulu is, perhaps it really is the only solulu.


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