Diversity, Inclusion, and My Mother the Seamstress

My mother is an incredible seamstress! She even made my wedding dress.

When I was a little girl, Mom often took me to Leggett’s Department Store where patterns and fabric were sold. She would guide me through the process of finding a pattern I liked, then material, and then accents like braiding and fun buttons. It was hard for me to visualize how the dress would turn out, but as I got older and Mom made more and more of my clothes, it became easier to visualize. It also became easier to trust the process.

I think of this process when organizations ask me how to design Diversity and Inclusion programs. There are some absolute principles that are critical, such as the program must be ongoing and evolving. Solid Diversity and Inclusion programs also provide education and awareness, create a culture of openness and trust, develop organization-wide programs and policies, and adhere to accountability and discipline processes.

Interestingly, some of what makes a great Diversity and Inclusion program is similar to what makes a great customized dress:

  • A true commitment to the process and outcome by the leader or leaders
  • An understanding that while key elements are essential, there can and should be some leeway from organization to organization and from dress to dress
  • And while each dress was “finished” and each diversity course or class has an end, to have a successful diversity and inclusion culture, the process is ongoing. Each event leads to the next.

How is your organization bringing diversity and inclusion to your workplace?

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