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From Talk to Action: Operationalizing Equity Through DEI Training and Coaching

This past year, many of us appreciated the heightened focus on racial equity in our culture, society, and organizations. We talk about it as a problem that has not yet been solved, and it’s true there’s still a lot of work to do. But more and more organizations are considering what it means to operationalize equity, marking a monumental shift from “talk” to “action.”

At a)plan, so much of what we do centers around the mission of operationalizing equity. From our coaching and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work (DEI training), to our internal conversations, to our diversity commitment, we are working to build a future where equity is tightly woven into the fabric of more and more organizations.

Recognizing that “operationalized equity” and “DEI training” are newer concepts to many people, we wrote this post to help explain what they are, why they’re important, and how anyone can take steps to do their own part in helping to operationalize equity.

What Is Operationalizing Equity?

Operationalizing equity can be defined as the process of adopting ways to systematically embrace more racial and social equity in the ways we work and live. In many respects, operationalizing equity is the opposite of a “band-aid” solution. It’s about creating new, long-lasting systems that allow for equity to take root and permeate throughout organizations and society as a whole.

Examples of Operationalizing Equity

The concept of operationalized equity is perhaps best explained through some examples. Let’s consider what operationalizing equity might look like in the context of an organization striving to improve its systems around employee engagement and belonging.

There’s no shortage of practices that could help an organization better operationalize equity. Especially for companies that are just starting to pay more attention to these issues, some initial tweaks could make a big difference. Examples include:

  • Establishing an unwavering commitment to diversity at the executive level 
  • Creating new communication channels so every voice in the room is considered
  • Giving under-represented employees (UREs) a safe space to discuss challenges

These examples aim to chip away at decades-long shortcomings that particularly afflict UREs. And note that addressing these issues is not only the right thing to do from an ethics perspective, but also from a business perspective. Research and studies support the fact that better representation and support for UREs leads to higher retention, more employee fulfillment, and increased innovation.

Where DEI Training and Coaching Fit Into the Picture 

For some people reading the above section, taking action isn’t as simple as just “creating new communication channels” so that more voices in the organization are considered. Entire posts could be written around the how in each of those examples. But for an increasing number of companies, DEI training and coaching is exactly how equity is operationalized in effective, sustainable ways.

At a)plan, we take a lot of pride in our DEI training, and we are honored to be trusted by organizations big and small to lead this important work. Like all of our training topics, our DEI training is designed to teach people skills that they don’t yet have and gives them immediate opportunities to practice those skills.

DEI training is facilitated by seasoned a)plan coaches, often via 90 minute sessions at organizations looking to better operationalize equity. Our training involves presentations, discussions, breakout sessions, and follow-up reflections in the a)plan coaching app.

What Topics Are Covered in DEI Training?

With so much to cover in this space, most DEI training topics could be the sole focus of an extended training session. In an attempt to strike a balance between breadth and depth, a)plan’s approach touches on some of the cornerstone DEI training topics. A sampling of these topics include:

  • Reflecting on the vast array of identity groups and identity differences
  • Awareness around dominant vs. non-dominant identity groups
  • Understanding the concept and impact of stereotype threat
  • Learning tools to have courageous, sometimes uncomfortable conversations
  • How microaggressions lead to macro impact, and how to improve this pattern

While some of these training topics are familiar to people even before our training sessions, attendee feedback has proven to us that there is always something valuable to learn. And when an entire organization is learning at the same time, companies see big strides in their efforts to operationalize equity.

Closing Thoughts on Operationalizing Equity Through DEI Training

To any organizations or individual changemakers advancing this important work, we commend you for taking action. The time is now to embrace new (and often overdue) practices that serve to support a wider breadth of individuals.

How are you and/or your company operationalizing change? At a)plan, even as a company that specializes in this work, the learning never stops. Whether you have some awesome ideas or are looking for some yourself, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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