This is the fourth post in a week-long series exploring DEI professional competencies. I believe the five key competencies for DEI professionals are:
- be strategic
- translate academic research into action and measure the impact of initiatives
- meet people where they are at and help them move to be more inclusive
- influence others
- get cross functional projects done.
Yesterday I wrote about being a professional change agent and the need to meet people where they’re at and help them change their perspective and behaviour to be more inclusive. Today I’m going to explore the ability to influence others.
DEI leaders need to be able to influence beyond their small team, at all levels of an organization. The way I did this was by building authentic relationships, learning about what other people’s priorities are, and negotiating how to be mutually successful.
For example, I reached out to the AV Operations team to advocate for live captioning for our big internal meetings to increase access, both for people who were hard of hearing, people who process content better with text, and for people for whom English was an additional language. They worked to make this part of the workflow and handled the administration with the captioning vendor.
Over a year later the AV Operations team reached out to me to partner on the sound quality in the office meetings rooms. As a distributed workforce we spent a lot of time in Zoom meetings and some rooms had better sound quality than others. Also, for some neurodiverse people they were too noisy and echoey and made it exhausting to be in meetings, so it was an accessibility issue too.
I recently did CliftonStrengths and one of my top strengths is Woo, or winning others over. CliftonStrenghts describes this as: “People exceptionally talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with someone.” DEI leaders have little if no formal power, so being skilled at this is necessary.
This is the fourth in a series of five posts. Tomorrow’s post, the last one in this series, is about getting cross functional projects done.