Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!
by Courtney Mercado
When you think about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion what is the first thing that comes to mind? You may think about diverse cultural holidays or interactive educational workshops. Maybe you thought about diverse leadership teams or wellness initiatives.
For most diversity and inclusion professionals our first thoughts are about money. What’s my budget? How much money has the organization allocated to a Diversity and Inclusion Department? How many people have been hired to do this work?
Money is always a touchy subject, but it is also a necessary one when it pertains to creating a culture that is more than just diversity language and marketing buzzwords. Inclusion, like everything else in the world, costs money to bring to life and organizations must think and plan about how much money will be needed to turn ideas and conversations about inclusion into your organization’s “new normal.” Here’s a few examples:
- Yesenia enters a building and jumps on an elevator to get to the next floor. Yesenia isn’t thinking about the reality that elevators are strategically installed into buildings to help people with mobile impairments access spaces easier and faster. What she sees as a quicker route to her destination is really an intentional inclusive practice for people who are differently abled.
- Ade is installing new signs for all the bathrooms in a law firm. They read “For Those Who Identify as Woman” and “For Those Who Identify as Man”. These signs were professionally designed and installed by an outside vendor and promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
- A Board of Directors has hired a diversity coach to partner with them to create Diversity and Inclusion goals to make the board more diverse and reflective of the agency’s client population. This diversity coach works with the Board of Directors for three consecutive years and helps the board successfully meet their outcomes.
- A client who is in a wheelchair makes a building manager aware that there are no ramps to safely enter or exit a building. The building manager takes this feedback to the owner, who now must bring in an engineer to effectively plan and estimate the cost of installing ramps at all the entry points.
Each of these scenarios illustrate how money is necessary to bring inclusive practices to life and it is imperative to research the costs of inclusion to be effective. At the Board of Child Care, we have a strategic goal of educating our senior leadership team on a variety of EDI competencies. To reach this goal, we needed to research and identify professionals in our community who were skilled at educating and guiding our leadership team through tough topics and helping build confidence around EDI issues and practices. This research has helped us become aware of the cost of educating our teams. With this knowledge we were able to project a budget for our next fiscal year so that in the future we can successfully reach our goal.
Embarking on your own EDI journey can be exciting and sometimes intimidating. Dedicate time to setting goals and researching the cost to meet your desired outcomes. Never shy away from advocating for funds because this work and the steps that need to be taken are important and deserve the same financial security as any other department, initiative, or strategic goal.