Are We There Yet?

Every parent has heard this from their children as we tow them along in a car, bus, plane or train during a vacation trip-are we there yet?

It is a natural inclination of all human beings this insatiable desire for instant gratification. We want the best and we want it now. We are hard wired to have our own way. We are obsessed with the short term at the expense of the bigger picture.

“Are We There Yet” syndrome applies to this ancient notion of diversity and inclusion. The thing everybody wants but avoids at the same time.

The federal sector is full of people who are asking another question when it comes to diversity and inclusion-can we go back home? To workplaces where white men still dominate, to households where women do all the work, to workplaces where the glass ceiling is still the norm, and to segregated schools, religious institutions and neighborhoods where people look like, talk like and act like each other.

They are fatigued by the challenge diversity and inclusion presents to their status quo and power. They are tired of the mandatory trainings that say they are unconsciously biased. They long for a simpler workplace that looks like 1965 instead of 2016. They want to be great again by going backwards.

The exhaustion feds feel about diversity and inclusion is the same energy drain people feel over getting fit. We know that losing weight is the right thing to do. Yet, we do not join a gym, change our diet or make life style changes to promote our wellbeing.

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, we ignore the critical examination we must do on ourselves to flush out our biases. We avoid the difficult conversations we should have particularly with people who are different from us to understand their uniqueness. We point the finger at the other person by claiming they are the problem. We make marginal sacrifices for diversity and inclusion and think we have done our part. We let other things invade our lives that make us too busy to build inclusive workplaces. We get afraid of the sacrifice that diversity and inclusion demands by fooling ourselves into thinking it is not a priority.

Are we there yet when it comes to diversity and inclusion? My dear child, some of us have not even started.

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Dylan Mroszczyk-McDonald

Thanks for a very insightful post Richard. You make a very astute point; one that I’ve sadly seen repeated over and over again not just in government but in the private sector as well. It’s incumbent upon each of us to be more self-aware and cognizant of our biases, mental models, and privilege. We cannot go back, only forward. I sincerely hope we as a society come to that realization sooner rather than later.