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How to Deal With DEI Pushback

By: Jessica MousseauDiversity Insights
How to Deal with DEI Pushback

Surprisingly, even today, it is not uncommon for higher-ups or colleagues to question or even to criticize DEI programs. Sometimes this DEI pushback may come from department heads or other leaders in a company, which can be detrimental to your mission for inclusion at work.

As a leader of DEI strategy, it’s important that you feel confident navigating these difficult conversations. One of the key factors for a DEI program’s success is how well you have implemented the program into your organization’s mission. as well as the level of support you have. If either of these things is missing, it could impact your reach and success.

Preparing for DEI Pushback Conversations

There are two parts to this approach. First, you must help people understand the direction of the business or organization and explain the impact you want to make. Second, you will want to educate them about the journey and how DEI programs create value for businesses.  Lastly, it’s important to explain the cost of not having a DEI program, perhaps by showing how resources like a diversity calendar can help prevent workplace issues. Make sure to answer these questions compassionately, reinforcing that DEI efforts are non-negotiable for any business.

Tips for Responding to DEI Pushback

#1 Help people understand their emotions about changes

Sometimes people get upset when they don’t understand the mission. If this is happening at your work, take time to acknowledge their feelings and explain why the change was necessary.

#2 Establish accountability systems

To avoid future pushback, whether or not you’ve experienced any, establish accountability systems. Having higher-ups involved in all DEI initiatives will clarify what your business stands for and what it will not tolerate.

#3 Implement continuous training programs

Workplace diversity training, unconscious bias training, and other DEI training programs not only help your employees understand these important concepts but also ensure they’re on board with any initiatives in place. A shared understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion terms allows your staff to  educate themselves and others when necessary.

Learn more about online diversity and inclusion training. A diversity calendar can help your organization to achieve its DEI goals.


Why do people oppose DEI?
Opposition to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives often stems from a lack of understanding or fear of change. Some view DEI efforts as unnecessary or as a form of reverse discrimination. Misconceptions about DEI leading to lower standards or favoring certain groups over others also contribute to resistance. Additionally, there’s a belief among some that DEI initiatives can create divisiveness by overly focusing on differences rather than commonalities.

How do you overcome resistance to DEI?
Overcoming resistance to DEI involves education and communication. It’s important to clearly articulate the benefits of DEI, not just for marginalized groups, but for the organization as a whole. This includes highlighting how DEI initiatives drive innovation, employee engagement and business success. Engaging skeptics in open dialogues, providing diversity training, and sharing success stories can also help. Leadership commitment to DEI values, demonstrated through actions and policies, plays a crucial role in fostering an inclusive culture.

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