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But should be talking about.

Diversity and Inclusion initiatives are an important part of all organizations and our society as a whole. Many organizations have appointed Chief Diversity Officers or created positions with similar titles for individuals to spearhead DEI initiatives. While this was happening prior to 2022, it has gained significant momentum this year.

To be clear, I am not writing a research piece here, so I won’t get into details or links to research -here. This is my interpretation and opinion regarding the DEI movement.

DEI initiatives have a beautiful intention and it’s about time we have this dialogue (and hopefully positive action) at a global level. Addressing diversity and equity beyond a person’s cultural and ethnic background is important. Expanding from awareness to inclusivity of individuals from marginalized populations, including those with ADHD, Autism and learning differences is key to building businesses, organizations and processes that truly embody the spirit of all who live in this world is crucial for economic development and sustainability.

With that said, I believe the sentiment behind DEI programs is in the right place; however, the impact does not align with the goal of these initiatives. As I understand it, currently many organizations are increasing recruiting efforts focused on hiring:

· People of color

· Women

· Neurodivergent

· Have other disabilities

· Cultural minorities

· Impoverished backgrounds

· Historically oppressed groups of people

I welcome these efforts and think it’s about time for this action. In theory, these initiatives sound great. But there is a disconnect between theory and practice:

1. lack of understanding and planning within organizations regarding diversity, inclusivity, and equity

2. minimal to no planning for changing organization wide culture to accommodate varying needs and set individuals up for success

3. perpetuating stereotypes of neurodivergent or neurovariant individuals as being great at data collection, tech related roles, or any other roles that don’t require customer interactions. [This is a big misconception, and I will address it in another article.]

Furthermore, the focus of DEI initiatives on marginalized populations which include people with disabilities, women, people of color or low-income backgrounds, negatively impacts those very individuals whom these programs are meant to uplift. Here’s how:

1. An individual’s merit, experience and education get dismissed or minimized, while there in lieu cultural identify or marginalized background is highlighted.

2. The focus then shifts from why the person is qualified for the position first, to “oh, he/she got hired because she is Autistic, Black, or transgender.” Anything, but “she is very accomplished and clearly a great fit for the organization’s pledge to increase equitable hiring processes.”

3. potential to become a form of tokenism. A sociological concept where an individual is given a position that receives attention to demonstrate diversity exists within their management ranks and beyond.

I sincerely want to be wrong about the disconnects and artificiality of DEI initiatives I am seeing and am truly hopeful that individuals are given the opportunity to demonstrate their talents and not simply be a token to fulfill a company quota to continue receiving tax breaks, funding, or protection from lawsuits.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. You are also welcomed to reach out to me!

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