Diverse team having a casual conversation

Genuine v. Performative: How To Be Sure Your DEI Efforts Are Authentic

Articles Jan 6, 2022

In 2021, The Diversity Movement was lucky to partner with 28 organizations to conduct assessments and create organization-wide insights reports. One of the key themes that emerged across several industries was a concern from employees that their organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts were performative rather than genuine and authentic.

After the murder of George Floyd, I remember seeing many organizations post DEI commitment statements. And while there were many organizations that have proven to be genuinely committed, others let their commitment crumble as 2020 and 2021 progressed, as this report from PR Week makes clear.

At the time, I served on the board for Raleigh City Farm, a non-profit urban farm with the mission to connect and nourish the central NC community through regenerative agriculture. I worked with our board members to craft a statement of commitments. We tied the statement to our mission and re-emphasized the values that the Farm has always upheld. We revisited this statement recently and all voted to formally adopt it, as we still feel that is true and authentic. Additionally, we have discussed DEI at every board meeting, reviewed and updated our recruiting and review policies, held a board member-specific DEI training session, and updated our values to include equity.

I share this story of my non-profit because it illustrates five key things I believe organizations can and should do to ensure their DEI initiatives are genuine and not performative.


Jamie Ousterout

Jamie (she/her) is a Certified Diversity Executive and vice president of Client Success for The Diversity Movement. She is the main point of contact for clients, helping take action on DEI journeys.