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Tips to Apply a DEI Lens to Decision-Making to Improve Outcomes

Appreciating that we each bring existing assumptions and beliefs to every conversation, apply these best practices individually or as a team to approach decision-making with a DEI lens to minimize confirmation bias (the tendency to process information by looking for or interpreting information that is consistent with one’s existing beliefs) and broaden ideas and possibilities to develop more thoughtful decisions that lead to more strategic and impactful outcomes.

  1. Acknowledge the limits of your personal experience. Appreciate that we look at the world through our own life experiences and recognize when our experiences, or lack thereof, may influence our actions and decisions. Pause to reflect on your personal beliefs, presumptions and preconceived opinions as well as experience and knowledge gaps prior to a discussion. During discussion, challenge yourself to empathetically listen to others before arguing your points. Use Tips to Bust Your Biases for other ideas on how to become more self-aware of blind spots.
  2. Uncover the root cause of the issue. Ensure you are addressing the real underlying concerns versus your assumed concerns. Play the 5 Why’s game to uncover the root cause of an issue.
  3. Define criteria for success up front. Set success criteria up front so rules are transparent and not adapted along the way to unintentionally favor your preferred idea or approach. Decision-making criteria should align with company values, DEI objectives and strategic goals to ensure outcomes reflect what is in the best interest of the organization versus personal beliefs or preferences.
  4. Consider who else should be consulted. Remember, you will always make a better decision with broad and diverse input. Pause and consult with at least one new person or alternative information source before pulling the trigger.
  5. Seek to understand when you don’t agree. Too often we are conditioned to think there is one right way (our way). The truth is, no one has a monopoly the truth and accepting that can help take the edge off the resistance you likely feel when your beliefs are challenged. Remind yourself that you can always learn even when you don’t always agree. Embrace a “both/and” mindset to avoid falling in the trap of a binary “either/or”, “right/wrong”, “good/bad” decision.
  6. Consider what can go right. We tend to have a negatively bias – over emphasizing what can go wrong versus what can go right – which often leads to inaction. Make a list of what can go right as well as what can go wrong with a decision. Reality usually falls somewhere in between.

Prepare to communicate the decision in a transparent way by sharing:

  • The rationale for the decision, including alignment with organizational goals.
  • Decision-making criteria and process steps.
  • Who/which perspectives were involved.
  • Educational or background information to support learning and understanding about the issue.
  • Where individuals can go if they have questions, want to discuss or share feedback.
  • When and how will we evaluate the impact of our decision and reflect on learnings to inform modifications or next steps?

Let's Connect

Beth Ridley is a former corporate executive turned organizational transformation consultant, speaker and author. Beth combines 25 years of global leadership and management consulting experience with expertise in diversity and inclusion and positive psychology to partner with leaders to transform workplace cultures to better achieve their vision and goals. Beth’s work is featured in national publications and she frequently delivers keynotes and workshops at events around the world. Beth lives with her husband and three children in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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