The phrase “meet people where they are” comes up a lot in the realm of training. It helps explain that not everyone starts with the same base of knowledge, and therefore you have to start where they’re at and move forward based on their needs. The same is true in the realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion: Associations are all in different places in their DEI journey.
Discovering where they are can help them make good decisions about what to do next, and there are a few steps associations can take to assess where they’re at.
For example, the Association of Corporate Counsel Foundation created a DEI Maturity Model to help legal departments and other organizations figure out where they are and where to go next.
“It’s for organizations that are interested in improving their DEI policies, but they’re not necessarily sure where to start,” said Jennifer Chen, director of the ACC Foundation. “The maturity model really provides a straightforward step to just get a program off the ground.”
Nathan Victoria, executive director and CEO of the Society for Personality Assessment, said doing an assessment is a great place to begin.
“Recognizing where you are regarding that journey and evolution is an important first step,” he said. “It’s a journey, and it’s about moving from where you’re currently at to the next step. You have to recognize where you’re starting. If you are an organization that has never said the word ‘whiteness’ before, that is where you’re starting, and your journey may be a little different from another organization that is open about race but now looking at social justice.”
For that initial assessment to work and provide a path to change, it’s crucial to be honest about your organization’s strengths and weaknesses.
“If you’re an organization or department leader and you’re willing to take an honest look at your policies, the maturity model can help you quickly identify areas and steps to where you can change and improve,” Chen said.
Victoria agreed, adding that the honest assessment—warts and all—will help associations better figure out what must be tackled in order to make progress.