The Inclusive Organization by Netta Jenkins

Book on a table in front of a bookshelf

Netta Jenkins is a leading voice in the world of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and anti-­racism. Forbes named Jenkins as one of the top 7 anti-racism consultants in the world. She has also been consulting and advising corporations for the past 15 years, winning numerous awards for their work. Jenkins is currently a doctoral student and author of The Inclusive Organization.

At a young age, Jenkins challenged her teachers to include different narratives in their course work. The book builds on that early activism and is for those who want to take action but are unsure how. It walks through different diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) frameworks, including worksheets that provide an oppor­tunity for self-reflection.

For Jenkins, believes people are at the heart of every organization, setting the foundation of how to truly build an inclusive organization. Using black and white images from the US civil rights movement, the author draws a parallel between the past and the persistence of discrimination and violence despite the gains we have seen.

Jenkins speaks about the Great Divergence, defined as separating society into two groups. One group feels discrimination of today is a much-improved version of discrimination in the past. The juxtaposition is between those who believe not much or anything is needed as things are much better, no need for change, and the other side that disagrees, urging continued activism for change. The author believes complex discriminatory structures of opportunity, power, and protection are still interwoven in the fabric of daily life.

Jenkins reminds readers that with these intersectional identities, there can be a divided experience leading to divided understanding. Society cannot afford to not acknowledge this gap. The author posits that choosing to address this divide head on creates great value and an opportunity for better understanding, allowing employees to connect in a more authentic way. Additionally, she feels we must take time to really get to know each other to find common ground. Organizations need to understand what really motivates others to care.

Jenkins strongly believes that DEI teams need to be compromised of representation of all populations. There needs to be a seat at the table so those voices can be heard. The author also argues that adequate resources and finances need to be devoted to help implement long term goals. Hiring a DEI leader and not supporting that role with resources is setting it up for failure. Often a racialized person is chosen with no supports provided, an example of lip service as mentioned earlier.

The Inclusive Organization is a great read for anyone looking to make changes in their organization. It provides an entry point for everyone, regardless of your experience or knowledge about the topic of equity.

About Rav Bhathal
Rav Bhathal (he/him) Equity & Wellness Staff Officer, Teachers’ Bargaining Unit, District 20, Halton

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