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4 Tips for Applying DEI to Your Daily Work

April 22, 2023, Jasmin Robinson

Keeping the momentum going, Jasmin Robinson shares post-Expo inspo

I recently attended Animal Care Expo as a panelist for one of the sessions on the main stage, “Mission-critical for animal welfare: Prioritizing DEI.” Our session dove into the importance of mission-critical work in animal care, using a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens. Not only was the conversation engaging, it provided insight into the different ways our work as animal care professionals interconnect.

As a first-time attendee and panelist, I wondered how my perspective would resonate with the audience. Discussing the nuances of DEI work is a daunting task. However, the receptiveness from the audience, coupled with the individual conversations with audience members afterward, demonstrated how timely the panel was. To support the synergy from the conference, I offer a few takeaways to encourage ongoing dialogue, reflection, advocacy, and action. 

Start with you. Consider how your experiences and identities have shaped your values and beliefs. Take some time to reflect on this, and share it with a trusted colleague. This exercise will get you to start thinking about how you understand the world around you and help raise awareness of your thought process (also known as metacognition). This will also help you identify areas of growth. I often ask folx, “When was the last time you learned about your identity as a (insert identity group here)?” That question sparks curiosity and encourages exploration.

Use what you have. Now more than ever, leaders are relying on data to drive change. However, only focusing on the successes of your organization misses an opportunity to address challenges. For example:

  • If you retain 80% of your employees, what have you done to understand the 20% who left?
  • How do you leverage the negative comments on surveys and feedback forms? Even if it’s just one voice with a concern, how did you address it?
  • Do your volunteers and staff reflect the communities you serve? Why?

Exploring the unknown and less favorable information takes courage but can be highly transformative. Also, enlisting a task force or advisory group to explore these questions is another way to strengthen buy-in and long-term change.

Stop defaulting to minoritized groups to do the work. Refrain from asking the only Black person, woman, Trans person, or any other minoritized group to answer your questions, share their experiences, or be on a diversity committee. Not only is this potentially triggering, but it can place them in a harmful position that can further isolate them, or worse. Additionally, carrying the weight of an organization as one of the few (and often) only people with a minoritized identity is emotionally exhausting. It’s imperative to do your own work and exploration first. 

Be okay with making mistakes. This work is not easy. I always hear people share concerns about “getting it wrong” or “saying the wrong thing.” We need the courage to move past this idea of perfection. We are humans, and humans are not without fault. Be okay with not knowing everything and commit to the journey and process.

Additional exercises involve intersectional leadership, to which I offer my thoughts and action steps in an upcoming two-part blog series. Until then, empower yourselves to move forward with curiosity, humility, and hope.

Stay vigilant.

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About Jasmin Robinson
As Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives with The Association, Jasmin Robinson is part of the team working on DEI in animal welfare spaces. Jasmin is a consultant, educator, and equity thought partner with over 12 years of professional experience. She primarily supports higher education institutions, k-12 schools, and nonprofit organizations with diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic planning, program development, trainings, and facilitation. Jasmin is a certified qualified administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory, LLC. In addition, she is a member of the Illinois Diversity Council (ILDC), Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), and the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE). Jasmin is completing a Ph.D. in Educational Administration, and her research interest include Black women experiences in historically white spaces, anti-Blackness, and cultural competence. In her spare time, Jasmin enjoys cooking, walking, thrifting, and brunch spots in the Chicagoland area.