In a growing number of states across America, books are being banned and educators are being prohibited from teaching concepts such as implicit bias, intersectionality, and structural racism and inequality. AWIS believes that DEI education is necessary to ensure diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments for STEM professionals and students — environments which will enable a strong and innovative workforce and nation. AWIS assembled the information below to help outline the benefits of DEI education and provide opportunities for you to get involved in local advocacy initiatives.
Why DEI Training is Essential
It is well documented that diverse organizations have better outcomes. This is why HR leaders are tasked with attracting and retaining diverse talent. To foster a welcoming environment, organizational leaders must educate employees about unconscious biases, microaggressions, and the importance of treating people how they want to be treated.
Similarly, in classrooms, it is imperative to have accurate conversations about slavery, structural racism, sexism, and the inequalities that still exist. This will ensure all students feel seen, understood, and represented; they are prepared to enter and participate in a diverse workforce; and they are able to not only recognize biases but address injustice when they encounter it.
Benefits to the individual
Women leaders are 2x more likely to be mistaken for someone more junior or have someone imply that they are not qualified compared to men. Black women leaders are 3x more likely. Diversity, equity, and inclusion education, policies, and practices can help reduce these disparities.
In an inclusive school or work environment, individuals feel a sense of belonging and psychological safety. They experience improved mental and physical health, more job satisfaction, and greater productivity.
Benefits to the organization
Organizations with diverse teams benefit from and are 8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes.
DEI programs can help attract and retain talent. 76% of jobseekers said a diverse workforce was important to them.
32% of Millennials and Gen Z employees believe businesses should try to improve society (e.g., improve education, reduce inequality, lead diversity initiatives). 75% of the workforce will be millennials by the year 2025.
Benefits to science/society
Diversity by age, class, gender, and race will bring unique perspectives to any discussion which yield more creative solutions and better decision-making 87% of the time.
Speaking to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women on March 6, 2023, Secretary General António Guterres said, “The math is simple: Without the insights and creativity of half the world, science and technology will fulfill just half their potential.”
Actions for individuals
- Be your whole, authentic self
- Treat others how they wish to be treated
- Stand up for yourself and others in your organization
- Understand the key components of DEI curriculum such as intersectionality
- Track bills targeting public K-12 schools (PEN America)
- Track bills aimed at restricting DEI offices and staff, diversity statements, and mandatory DEI training (Chronicle of Higher Education)
- Understand the differences between Critical Race Theory (CRT) and DEI training
- Learn more about CRT from the American Bar Association and the benefits of teaching it from the African American Policy Forum
- Read suggestions on how to respond to those that oppose CRT
- Support the AAPF #TruthBeTold campaign through these suggested actions
- Track lawmakers engaging in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric (GLAAD)
- Track state legislation affecting LGBTQ+ people (Equality Federation)
- Review the GLAAD media reference guide
Actions for educators
- Know your rights. Read this FAQ and state specific guidance from the National Education Association.
- Review the Resource Guide for Campus Leaders from the American Council on Education and PEN America.
- Contact the Hotline for Educators (202-250-5403) provided by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) in partnership with Howard University School of Law’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center to understand what is and isn’t allowed in your curriculum, find legal assistance, or get assistance drafting a faculty senate resolution.
Actions for HR / leaders
- Obtain commitment of senior leadership and be intentional about your DEI efforts.
- Conduct a DEI assessment to expose areas where your organization needs to improve.
- Provide unconscious bias and allyship training.
- Ensure diverse role models are visible among leadership.
- Offer sponsorships and mentorships to women, employees of color, and others who belong to historically marginalized communities.
- Cast a wide net during the hiring process to identify a diverse set of qualified candidates. Adopt blind screening methods.
- Support flexible schedules for childcare or elder care and parental leave, including for adoption or foster care placements.
- Provide gender-neutral bathrooms and nonbinary gender choices on HR forms.
- Offer remote work options for people with physical or mental health issues and train leaders how to manage remote workers.
- Train managers and reward them equitably and appropriately.
American Civil Liberties Union is fighting classroom censorship
Lambda Legal provides support for LGBTQ+ people and those living with HIV
National Women’s Law Center provides legal information for sex discrimination and harassment, abortion patients/providers, and people trying to obtain birth control
Be part of the solution!