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Dignity Is the Bedrock for Workplace Belonging

Dignity as an organizational value

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has become the mainstream approach for how companies attempt to create more inclusive workplaces. Well-meaning employers and employees alike have flocked to the approach as a solution to inequality and other forms of discrimination, through implicit bias trainings, diversity audits and metrics of representation.

However, DEI has been woefully insufficient in addressing the individual and institutional challenges in workplaces—particularly assaults to personal dignity. Efforts done in the name of DEI can reinforce patterns of tokenism, assimilation and disrespect that oppress Black and Indigenous employees and leave all employees without the proper tools to dismantle discriminatory organizational and practices.

Global consulting firm Decolonize Design has been outspoken about the many limitations and harms of the DEI industrial complex. Our alternative framework of belonging, dignity, and justice (BDJ) offers a vision for a workplace where we all are welcome, valued, and safe. Dignity, rather than diversity, is the foundation for building work environments that acknowledge and value the humanity of each person. It is the cornerstone upon which organizations can create environments based in belonging and justice.

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