Every day the DEI industry is growing and evolving. Along with growth comes a new playing field with a new set of rules to engage more audiences. One thing we know for sure is that "the only constant in life is change." As the industry and people in it continue to change, we wanted to provide you with some necessary tools to become a successful DEI practitioner at every step of the way.

Be patient and resilient

DEI work takes time. View it as a marathon, not a sprint. The journey toward improvement is ongoing, ever changing and never ends. 

Be a positive disruptor 

Shake things up in a positive way. Creating a little bit of discomfort is good - that’s how personal change and growth happens. 

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable

One of the biggest challenges of DEI work is driving behavior change at an individual level. To be effective, it’s important to meet everyone where they are. You must be comfortable with being uncomfortable while also helping others get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Be a strategic thinker

Successful DEI practitioners have to be passionate about DEI while also tying their passion to the work’s business side. You must connect the dots on how DEI drives better business results with quantitative and qualitative data. Whether you’re working on individual behavioral change or corporate-wide policy and procedure changes, it’s important to consider timing and readiness when launching DEI initiatives. 

Be able to see goals differently

It’s not just about identifying which metrics to track; a successful DEI practitioner must also view progress holistically and understand how different areas of the company are impacted.

Be highly visible

Ensure everyone knows who you are to understand the importance of your role and, thus, the importance of DEI to the organization.

Be an excellent communicator

Having excellent interpersonal communication skills is essential when creating buy-in. You will need to learn how to have those uncomfortable conversations and discuss sensitive topics that may provoke feelings of defensiveness among your audience.

Be a good collaborator 

DEI practitioners often don’t have a team, so they must collaborate with others to implement and execute initiatives across the organization. Identify colleagues who are change catalysts to source creative and innovative ideas and to help with execution.

Be able to lead with influence, not authority 

As a DEI practitioner, you can’t always change behavior; you can only give instructions, be the example and set expectations for other individuals. 

Be plugged in

A successful DEI practitioner must plug into every part of the business, at every level, to have a holistic view of how DEI initiatives impact everyone, every team, every department, and every division. “Keep your ear to the street” because sometimes issues fester at various levels of the organization without ever making their way up to senior management.

Be approachable

A DEI practitioner must be someone that others feel comfortable approaching with difficult, challenging, and potentially offensive or controversial questions and conversations. Avoid judging people and always assume positive intent.

Be a good coach

A DEI practitioner must serve as an internal consultant and help guide people on their DEI journey in a non-confrontational way.

Be credible

Getting certifications can boost your knowledge, credibility, and impact as a DEI practitioner.  

Certification programs arm DEI leaders with the knowledge, resources, and skills to set them up for success. Getting trained and certified legitimizes you as a DEI expert and better prepares you to strategically and effectively address your company’s specific challenges. Organizations that are genuinely committed to DEI will invest in resources, including upskilling their DEI leaders through certification programs like TDM’s Certified Diversity Professional (CDP®) course