Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace: A conversation with Eurasia Foundation President Lisa Coll
“At its core, DEI is about helping every employee see they are valued for who they are … It’s about making sure staff at all levels of the organization see the strength a diverse staff brings to an organization like ours that is working to make sure voices of marginalized groups are lifted and heard,” says Eurasia Foundation President Lisa Coll. EF Communications Officer Julia McLean sat down with Ms. Coll to discuss the concrete steps EF is taking to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, and why.
JULIA MCLEAN, HOST: What efforts is EF taking to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace?
LISA COLL: We are taking a close look at our policies, our practices, our behaviors to see how we might enhance diversity and inclusion in the way we work, in the way we recruit staff, in the way we make decisions. We have also rolled out an initiative globally that will include a series of trainings and discussions around these issues with staff from all of our offices. We want to signal to staff globally that these are important issues for the organization, no matter where you’re working.
MCLEAN: And why is EF pursuing DEI trainings now?
COLL: Well, I think the recent events in the U.S., in particular the instances of police brutality against black men and black women, has highlighted and really brought into focus how far we still have to go in the U.S. around this issue. And has certainly helped me to take a close look at our organization and make the easy decision to invest some resources to start the conversation among the staff.
MCLEAN: How do you see this training transitioning into company culture?
COLL: I think this is a great question. We see some low hanging fruit and kind of periodic trainings and changes to some processes. But I think real success will look like behavior change. And the initial results we’re seeing from the surveys or the trainings are that we have a very strong foundation in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the organization. There are a lot of things we’re doing well. We have a very ethnically diverse staff. People generally feel valued and able to express pride in their backgrounds and their culture. But the work we’ve done so far has also uncovered some areas where we can do better. And we’ll be getting at some of that through training that focuses on our expectations of behavior among staff at all levels of the organization.
MCLEAN: Why is DEI training important both at Eurasia Foundation and in the workforce?
COLL: I think at its core, DEI training is about helping every employee to see that they are valued for who they are so that they’re able to show up as their true selves in the workplace every day. It’s also about making sure staff at all levels of the organization see the strength that a diverse staff brings to an organization like ours. How the diversity of perspective and opinion makes for better decision making, better programming, deeper impact. And I think this is particularly true for an organization like ours that is working around the world to address issues of inequality and to make sure that voices of marginalized groups are lifted and heard.