I am beyond proud to announce that the writing of my second book, Innovating for Diversity, is complete!
The new book, scheduled for official release in March 2023, discusses on how the principles of innovation – specifically courage, risk-taking, collaboration, trust, and leadership – can help to improve the outcomes of DEI programs. In the book, many great companies and leaders, from the likes of Citibank and World Wide Technology, share their stories on how they’ve used these principles in recruiting, mentoring programs, apprenticeships, employee retention, and more. The book also spoke to small business owners and how they’ve approached developing DEI programs with their limited budgets and resources. Ultimately, these leaders share their stories, successes, and lessons learned, as means of helping other leaders in developing (or perhaps, retooling existing) DEI programs.
While this was my second time around, the experience was an entirely different one from many perspectives. First, and most importantly, I had the privilege of co-authoring with the wonderful Bertina Ceccarelli, who is the CEO of NPower. I have previously worked with Bertina on several projects, including having her as one of my first guests on the Wiley Diversity in Tech webinar series on allyship. I learned so much from her during our time writing together, and to me, she is a tireless, passionate, and fierce advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.
Candidly, the second thing that made this experience different was something I had not expected at all – DEI fatigue. Towards the middle of our writing process, I will not sugarcoat that I became very tired. This was not so much from the rigor of book writing (although as I said in Women of Color in Tech, book writing is still on my top five list of difficult things to do). Rather, it was the reminder of some hard truths… In most of corporate America, we still struggle with representation, equity, and retention of historically marginalized talent. Unfortunately, with our current economic situation, attention on DEI is beginning to lessen, only after less than five years of the proclamations corporate America made in the wake of George Floyd. Although many studies have talked about the business case for DEI (with hard metrics and data), on top of the moral case for DEI, I still found myself having to explain to some leaders why DEI is important and necessary for their business. Finally, despite my past advocacy work, there were times when I personally reflected on my mistakes and gaps in knowledge in DEI. Much of my work has been based on race and gender, but reflecting that there were some missed opportunities where I can learn and grow to help others beyond those dimensions.
What gave me so much hope though was hearing the stories from the wonderful interviewees for the book. Through their honest and direct conversations, they helped me to re-focus and remember that I’m human and that this is a journey. In this journey, you may make mistakes like going down the wrong path, or perhaps not bringing people with you and going it alone. But it is important to remember to pause and reflect so that if you need to course-correct, you can. It is also important to remember to keep going, even when things get hard and resources are scarce. Particularly for businesses, now is not the time to let up on DEI. In times of lack, companies who drew back their investment toward research and development in future products and technologies have ultimately paid the price for it later. I don’t feel that it is any different for companies with regard to their investment in DEI. I personally believe that companies that relent will have a much harder time keeping their current, diverse talent, and even harder when conditions improve.
Finally, through the successes that were shared by our interviewees, it gave me much-needed hope that we are learning, and slowly getting better every day in improving DEI in our organizations.
You can find out more about the book and read early praise reviews at innovatingfordiversity.com.