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Regenerate Your Organization: Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Proficiency

In today’s climate, there are so many terms used to describe the journey to liberation. There are diversity initiatives, inclusion practices, cultural proficiency models, the list goes on and on. Clients often ask us, how do all of these pieces fit together to create the whole of liberation? For us, we see liberation as the umbrella that captures the journey of creating spaces where all people thrive, innovate, and experience belonging.

At Lead For Liberation, we know that diversity is necessary for innovation. Without a group of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas, we stagnate. This is even true for plants! For example, planting only homogeneous crops depletes the soil. By contrast, planting a diverse set of crops regenerates soil to make it rich, fertile, and ripe for new ecosystems. In order to regenerate soil, you begin by diversifying the crops you plant. This is true for humans as well. Therefore, we recommend teams and organizations design themselves to represent multiple people groups, races, identities, experiences, talents, and skills. With that said, it is more than just soil that allows diverse plants to thrive. It is also the conditions within and around the plants.

a row of crops with mountains and sky in the background

When farmers want to diversify their crops, they must begin by learning what the new crops need and shifting the way they farm, so they are ready to help the new crops grow. Especially if they have only ever learned to grow one crop, one way. This is also true for the practice of developing cultural proficiency. Cultural proficiency is all about developing skills to better lead, manage, and work with people who are different from us. Leaders cannot rely on just one way to give feedback, delegate, make decisions, or develop others—they must learn and be open to a range of strategies for supporting their employees to be and give their best.

Finally, it is imperative that we create inclusive cultures and communities as we seek to diversify our organizations. When farmers begin the process of regenerating soil, they rotate the crops and take specific steps to ensure all the plants can grow together at one time. They ensure crops have plenty of access to sun, water, and land to grow. This is what inclusivity does. Inclusivity is the intentional decision a leader makes to adjust their cultural norms and practices to ensure that all identities can thrive and feel like they belong, which is necessary for real innovation to occur.

For us, diversity, inclusion, and cultural proficiency are not “icing on the cake,” or “good to haves,” they are essential for designing innovative, high-performing organizations and teams. When we look at today’s cultural climate, we see that it is ripe and fertile for creativity, imagination, and innovation. So many new futures are possible. When we take responsibility for creating diverse, nourishing “soil”—which for us are the conditions necessary for liberation—then it allows the seeds of liberation to grow and flourish.


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