Diversity and Inclusion

Episode 102: It’s Not All Doom & Gloom: State of DEI

Breaking with Tradition Podcast Season 1, Episode 2

] Introducing: Season 1, episode 2, of the Catalyst podcast, Breaking with Tradition: It’s Not All Doom & Gloom: State of DEI.

It’s easy to become disheartened by the backlash against diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) movements in the workplace. It’s a time of inflamed political rhetoric and multiple overlapping global crises that threaten to roll back the clock on our efforts to make more equitable work environments for women.

On this episode of Breaking with Tradition, we’re reminded of words from Felice Schwartz as she looked at the radical changes she saw in her lifetime: “We can’t go on the way we have been—living new lives in the old patterns.”

What is the state of DEI in 2024? Is it all doom and gloom, or is there reason to hope for “new patterns” emerging? Our host Erin is flying solo this week and sitting down with Ruchika Tulshyan, expert, speaker and author on DEI and founder and CEO of Candour to discuss her predictions for our work this year and beyond.

Our conversation will tackle some of the biggest Future of Work trends impacting women today. Spoiler alert: There’s a lot to be excited about!

Host and guest

Erin Souza-Rezendes, Vice President, Global Communications, Catalyst

LinkedIn | Bio

Ruchika Tulshyan is the best-selling author of Inclusion on Purpose: An Intersectional Approach to Creating a Culture of Belonging at Work (MIT Press). The book was described as “transformative” by Dr. Brené Brown. She is working on her next book: “Uncompete: Dismantling a Competition Mindset to Unlock Liberation, Opportunity, and Peace” (Viking Books).

Ruchika is also the founder of Candour, an inclusion strategy practice. A former international business journalist, Ruchika is a regular contributor to The New York Times and Harvard Business Review and a recognized media commentator on workplace culture.

LinkedIn | Website

In this episode

  • 1:35 | About Ruchika. Who is Ruchika Tulshyan and what is her approach to DEI?
  • 6:01 | Ouch, 2024. It’s been rough. Are the DEI doom and gloom headlines true? Ruchika weighs in.
  • 12:57 | What’s your advice? How do we shore ourselves up during these challenging times?
  • 18:45 | Imposter syndrome is a systemic issue. Ruchika shares how we can make systems-level change.
  • 25:35 | What does the future of work look like? Will inclusivity be the norm?
  • 30:57 | Sneak Peek. The Catalyst community gets a sneak peek into Ruchika’s next book

Favorite moments

  • 1:51 | Ruchika: I think of the work that I do or my approach to diversity, equity and inclusion as multi-faceted. So much of it is driven by various identities I have and hold throughout my life.
  • 5:48 | Erin: I think it means so much to marry those two things and have both, the personal storytelling and the receipts of the research to uncover what is happening in workplaces around the world, particularly for women.
  • 8:06 | Ruchika: I’d say the most important part of this is that a lot of these attacks are not new. They’re not using, they might be using new language, they might be using different packaging around it.
  • 8:21 | Ruchika: Ten years ago, when I was in the technology industry, at that time, even using the words diversity, equity and inclusion were basically completely new.
  • 9:35 | Ruchika: I think actually think now we’ve come to a place now where it’s [microaggressions] so widely understood, we can actually update it to say microaggressions are not that micro. They actually have a very macro impact on people in their lives, on their careers.
  • 10:35 | Ruchika: Some part of this, I think is also the zero-sum thinking that I think a lot of people and leaders and organizations operate with. Like this idea of winner takes all.
  • 11:45 | Erin: If the workplace is a place where women feel like they can show up authentically, where they’re going to experience inclusion, whatever that means to them, however that feels to them and be able to succeed on their terms, whatever that means to them. Then that’s good for everybody.
  • 22:49 | Ruchika: Once you start to unpack the systemic issues at play it because really hard to keep saying or keep believing that it is an internal issue [imposter syndrome] that you are struggling with.
  • 23:47 | Ruchika: How do you win? Until you stop taking it [imposter syndrome] on as an internal burden?
  • 24:02 | Ruchika: We need to widen the table. We need to show different styles of leadership. We need to show that someone who pounds her fist, especially a woman who pounds her fist or is just her personality is such, that her leadership style is to be you know, strong, commanding, domineering, etc. is just as acceptable as someone who identifies as an introvert who’s really quiet, who leads sort of in a different way.
  • 26:22 | Ruchika: Gender inequity isn’t necessarily men doing inequity to women. Some of the most challenging and concerning examples of gender bias I’ve seen in the workplace has been from women upholding very patriarchal very gender-biased norms against other women.
  • 26:52 | Ruchika: I think some of the backlash is the idea of like we’re separating people out into groups, we’re creating more divisions, rather than understanding that systemic biases impact everyone regardless of their identity.
  • 28:51 | Ruchika: I think these examples of people being able to really be their full, authentic selves is the type of future of work that I really want us to see.
  • 29:39 | Ruchika: To hear from, you know white men to say to me, I identify as an introvert. I don’t like speaking up at meetings. And, you know, being so commanding and domineering, it’s expected of the workplace that I work at. And since we’ve sort of been working on inclusion much more thoughtfully and intentionally, I feel like I can bring my more quiet, more introverted self to meetings and to my leadership style.
  • 23:54 | Ruchika: If we are truly going to rise, if we’re truly going to create this future where everyone wins, we need to stop believing and stop only focusing on the gains that we can make as individuals or just our own community.
  • 34:22 I Erin: I can think of times in you know, what I would consider fairly inclusive workspaces, being told by bosses like, oh you know, watch out, watch out for her kind of thing. And thinking 20 years ago, that doesn’t seem right to me.
  • 35:14 | Ruchika: A lot of what we were conditioned with, a lot of the norms, we were told about the workplace, about society don’t hold true anymore.
  • 35:16 | Ruchika: Just because we’ve done things a certain way, now that we know better we don’t have to continue in that way.
  • 36:26 | Ruchika: The opportunity is there, but we have to imagine it.

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