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October 11, 2022

Why is R.I.S.E.ⓒ One Level Up from DEI?

The rise of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training has increased in popularity for the past few decades. Although DEI training has become common, it is crucial for organizations to question the effectiveness of achieving an equitable and inclusive work culture with just DEI alone. 

Historical Background of DEI Work

Diversity training efforts grew in the late 1960s and 1970s, largely as a response to the passing of the Civil Rights Act and the discrimination suits that followed filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Most of what we would now call DEI trainings were focused on anti-discrimination and compliance. 

From the mid-1980s to mid 1990s, diversity training was focused on “helping minorities and women assimilate” and improving working relationships. Looking into the 2000s, many organizations are considering diversity training a best practice to achieve business success, profitability, and growth. 

In examining the history and evolution of DEI work in especially corporate settings, we can see that DEI work was usually a reaction to the social movements happening. Does DEI inherently address the systemic issues that plague our society? If not, what was missing?

R.I.S.E.ⓒ: A More Proactive and Systemic Approach

Converge defines R.I.S.E.ⓒ (Racial and InterSectional Equity) as an analysis and approach to explicitly dismantle white supremacy through the intentional centering of equity, the shifting of power, and the redistribution of resources. This approach is an effort to address systemic oppression, while creating room for organizations to reimagine a more equitable world. 

Converge recognizes that our society’s current systems are entrenched in a nature of colonialism and white supremacy. Because of this, equity must first focus on race and ethnicity as the primary drivers of lived experiences, life outcomes, and disparities. R.I.S.E. recognizes how other aspects of identity such as gender, sexuality, and ability currently and historically intersect to determine life outcomes. 

An Operationalizable Approach

Operationalizing R.I.S.E.ⓒ means centering the voices that are most impacted by the work of the organization and those the organization directly serves. Converge goes beyond DEI training and with collaboration and deep listening when assessing the historical and current context of an organization. 

Training is a crucial part of operationalizing R.I.S.E.ⓒ, and this information is rooted in addressing and creating a shared understanding of systemic racism and inequities. Through the R.I.S.E.ⓒ approach, Converge ultimately develops a client’s equity lens, accompanying implementation plans and accountability measures in doing equity work. 

In sum, the origins of DEI work are rooted in compliance and maintaining the status quo. Today, we recognize that we can not continue to address systemic inequity with the same solutions. R.I.S.E.ⓒ is both an analysis and approach that works to address the systemic issues that are often ignored by organizations. 

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