General question: Is there any room in corporate America for real, actionable DE&I discussions and initiatives? I've observed so many corporate versions become an advertising strategy (SM posts, diversity reports) without doing the actual work (increasing representation in senior leadership, salary analyses, having an effective reporting system for bias). Is this just how it is?

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Yeah a huge failure or corporate DE&I is that it takes the form of being largely performative rather than honest attempts at DE&I. A company will hire a few women of color in Exec positions and champion it a win while doing nothing to address the pay disparity that is significantly worse for WoC.

They’re usually often completely oblivious to any non-visible diversity. So they’re pretty shit in how they handle neurodivergrent folks or people with non-visible disabilities

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At this point, many companies in my field (including mine) have a few women execs, but no other diversity in senior leadership. This is in vast contrast to lower levels which are highly diverse. We like to post our little awareness events on SM, but the way senior leadership handles questions on diversity and equality is downright shameful (and borderline illegal from some things I've heard).

In my years of DEI work, I've found that companies aren't ready to do the REAL work, meaning fixing the systemic issues that create inequity, among other topics. For example, we have a Director of DEI that was moved into that position for optics. Yes, they're a WOC; however, they have zero experience doing DEI work and have caused more harm than good. Most of the excuses I hear are "we want to acknowledge DEI, BUT we don't want to upset customers/ clients/ investors/ employees, etc." that tells me they're not ready to go all in. The biggest mistake I've seen is hiring for optics or thinking that hiring diverse talent will "fix" a company's culture or create belonging/ inclusivity. It doesn't. What ultimately happens is those Black and brown folx they hired will leave because they start to see that they're at a company that isn't for them (diversity hire) and/or doesn't support their success or career trajectory.

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It was really helpful for me personally and I think was the most effective things I've seen for at least helping to start some cultural shifts within a company. Talking to an ombuds was a great experience though and really helped my experience of the workplace a lot.

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