Over the last few years I have become increasingly vigilant about what I choose to watch and absorb, particularly early in the morning and late at night.
Working in environments where the prevalence of marginalization, oppression and discrimination are being actively talked about and tackled, naturally makes us hyper aware of the devastating impacts of inequality, whether that be on physical health, mental health, or social or economic freedom.
In a political and social environment where speaking out about injustice has become increasingly challenging it is integral to ensure that "self-preservation" practices need to be prioritized.
Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) work is very satisfying, but its also very difficult.
Knowing your mission deeply is the key to maintaining resilience in the context of increasing challenge, and growing disparities.
You must know your mission if you want to make a difference in your business and the world.
A concerted and persistent effort is required to stay committed to your goal. A good approach is to write out your objectives regularly, and details on how you plan to reach them. In a social context where the changes in equity, representation and experience take time, are typically small, and are under increased scrutiny, it is important to examine your objectives to stay focused and accomplish them regularly.
Participating in activities that encourage reflection is also crucial. Think about how your work will be perceived, assess the methods used, and change your approach based on what you learn via reflection. Additionally, it's an opportunity to celebrate your little successes, which are critical to sustaining motivation and health in the long run.
Working with other practitioners is also crucial, and provides the opportunity to be inspired by positive news. By sharing your successes and failures, you will learn new things, reignite your passion, and reinforce your commitment to championing equity and supporting people in your workplace or community.
Getting Leadership Support and Required Resources /Sponsorship
Any EDI endeavour needs leadership and resources to succeed. Leaders shape an organisation's culture. Their support may boost EDI efforts, while their apathy or hostility will hinder them.
Gaining leadership support often involves presenting a compelling case that aligns inclusion and equity objectives with the organisation's overall strategy. It's about demonstrating how inclusion and equity initiatives contribute to the organisation's performance, innovation, employee engagement, and reputation. This approach secures buy-in and ensures that inclusion and equity is not viewed as a standalone or peripheral effort but as a fundamental aspect of the organisation's operations and strategy.
Furthermore, leaders can provide both moral and financial support and resources. Having a budget for initiatives allows for the implementation of comprehensive programs, training, and positive action that can foster a more inclusive and diverse workplace. It also sends a strong message throughout the organisation about the value placed on these efforts.
But it's not just about obtaining resources; it's also about strategic utilisation. This involves prioritising initiatives, measuring their impact, and ensuring transparency in allocating and using resources. Doing so enhances the effectiveness of inclusion and equity initiatives and strengthens the case for continued or increased investment in these efforts.
Building support systems of peers within and outside your company, whether official or informal, may help you weather tough times. People in these groups may feel comfortable enough to talk about problems, ideas, and solutions and share what has worked for them. Additionally, they provide a feeling of belonging and support, showing you that you have someone to lean on while dealing with the difficulties and opposition to your work.
Learning and growth may also be enhanced via peer support. By maintaining consistent communication, peers may update one another on EDI-related news, trends, and approaches. Continual learning is essential in a constantly changing sector, with new discoveries, difficulties, and opportunities appearing regularly.
Furthermore, while striving for organisational reform, peer support may be invaluable. In many cases, the strength of a group's opinion outweighs that of an individual. To make a stronger case for targeted inclusion and equity efforts, colleagues might work together to divide up the work of advocating for change and provide each other moral support when things get tough.
Interacting with very sensitive and, at times, distressing information is a common part of working in inclusion and equity. It's normal for practitioners to have emotional reactions or traumas triggered by stories of lived experience, or events they attend. For both your personal and professional success, it is crucial to acknowledge and overcome any trauma you may have experienced.
Being conscious of oneself is the first stage. If you can identify the causes of your emotional reactions, you will be better able to manage them. You should be prepared to cope with your responses to work by knowing when they occur and having a plan. To do this, you may need to limit your work time, such as when you can't work on a given project, how often you can work on a certain subject, or how much responsibility you may assign to others.
Also vital is creating a supportive workplace. This involves providing self-care and mental health resources, a friendly workplace, and a place where employees can communicate about their mental health.
Finding a balance is the key to overcoming personal trauma while working in inclusion and equity. You must demonstrate curiosity and empathy without allowing your emotions to take over. It's difficult to balance this crucial duty with mental health, but reflection, community, and strategic preparation may help.
Putting Your Mental Health First
Prioritising mental health demands awareness of emotional and mental weariness, burnout, and stress. Self-care is essential. Taking time to relax and do activities that make you happy might help, as can setting clear boundaries between your personal and work life.
Developing a strong network of personal and professional allies is also essential. People who understand your professional challenges and can provide advice, support, or simply listen are helpful. Don't disregard physical health—it impacts mental wellness. A healthy diet, sleep, and exercise may promote mental and emotional health.
Last but not least, celebrate your wins, however little. EDI tasks are often more like marathons than sprints. A much-needed boost to your emotional well-being and drive may be found in acknowledging and enjoying the improvements you accomplish and the feedback you receive from those you are supporting.
Top Tips on Resilience/Self-Care
Personal resilience is as vital as professional skills in inclusion and equity. Here are some tips for resilience and self-care:
Realise that change usually occurs gradually and in little increments, and set your expectations accordingly. Keep your feeling of progress and purpose alive by acknowledging and celebrating all accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.
Network of Supportive People
Surround yourself with individuals who understand your job and will lend you a helping hand as you build your network. Community members, friends, family, or trained counsellors all fall under this category.
Don't Overwatch News
While keeping up with the news is essential, it may be exhausting to do so daily, especially if it's bad. Permit yourself to unplug when you need to.
Regularly, take stock of your progress, reflect on your successes, and evaluate how well you meet your objectives. Doing so, you better adjust to new situations while remaining true to your mission.
To sum up, being healthy in an inclusion and equity role is more than simply dealing with outside threats; it's also about building your inner strength and resilience. You will maintain your well-being while still making significant contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion if you focus on your mission, reach out for assistance, manage your stress, and take care of your mental health.
Create habits for the year ahead by reflecting on how you are doing, and how you plan to manage your well-being, after all self care is a form of resistance.