Unmasking Microaggressions and Designing DEI Policies for Greater Impact

NIBS Building Innovation Conference 2021

by Emily Langner

The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) recently held its Building Innovation virtual conference, which included sessions on resilience, building technology and the workplace. The event also included the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion, and successfully implementing DEI principles into an organization.

In the session entitled Designing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policies on Purpose for Greater Impact, Daniel Villao, CEO of Intelligent Partnerships, Inc., said, “There is no single, correct approach. Like people, organizations have differences in history, priority, and needs; there is no one-size-fits-all solution.”

Villao added that it’s imperative to take a real and honest look at where the organization is currently while being inclusive in the planning process. This includes setting measurable goals with dates, and making sure to look at the entire process, including recruitment, hiring, retention and promotion, and identifying where the gaps are.

The process for demonstrating diversity and inclusion in a purposeful manner includes:

  • Asess: Identify where you are as an organization.
  • Compile: Capture real internal data.
  • Collaborate: Work with a team to define goals and create coordinated processes.
  • Get Buy-in: Make sure that everyone is committed to the new policies.
  • Implement: Integrate your DEI strategy into all levels of your organization.
  • Support: Provide opportunities for further education and training.
  • Reflect: Evaluate the policies based upon the defined goals previously set.
  • Adjust: Make changes to ineffective policies; solicit input from the whole team.

In the session, Unmasking Microaggressions in the Workplace, Ryan C. Warner, Ph. D., CRC, founder and CEO of RC Warner Consulting, LLC, said microaggressions are defined as “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile derogatory or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

Warner said the first step in creating a culture of inclusion is identifying the blind spots or the bias that we may hold as individuals, expanding our flexibility, and making sure our biases don’t negatively impact our interactions with our co-workers within our workplace. He added, “Research shows that when microaggressions are directly addressed, workplace teams enhance performance, cohesion and outcomes.”

Emily Langner is editor at High-Profile Monthly.