11 potentially brand-damaging mistakes corporations make with DEI initiatives

by | Jul 20, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

In this expert panel from the Forbes Coaches Council, 11 Forbes Coaches Council members, including me, shared mistakes corporations — and at least one nonprofit organization — have made around DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) efforts. These mistakes run the risk of harming an organization’s brand. That’s because many of these mistakes are performative. In an effort to show they are taking action around DEI, leaders make claims without following through or they take actions that can be harmful to others. 
My panel contribution is #5, Scheduling Compliance Training On The Day Juneteenth Is Observed. Here’s how this contribution came to be. A national nonprofit organization that I’m a member of scheduled online compliance training for its members on Monday, June 20, 2022. That was the official observation of the new federal holiday Juneteenth since June 19 fell on a Sunday.
When I got the email in mid-June, I contacted the office to ask why they had chosen this date. My question must have been challenging because it was sent to the organization’s president. The answer? June 20 was convenient for board members. Plus, the organization tries to “work to be inclusive” and to “value diversity.” This answer seemed very inappropriate to me, but I wanted to confirm it. (My journalism education continues to influence my actions.) 
So I checked in with three Black colleagues who work in DEI plus a member of the nonprofit organization I work with who is Black. All four agreed that this behavior not only was inappropriate, but is also a microaggression. The Black member of the nonprofit also told me she wasn’t saying anything because she didn’t want to come across as the “angry Black woman.”
The moral of the story? Do the right thing. And if you have any questions about what the right thing is, ask others before you act. 


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