Tag Archive for: Diversity

You have likely heard many arguments about the value that diversity can bring to a workplace. Over the past several decades, businesses have invested meaningfully in implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) programs that focus on diversity in their organizations. In fact, almost 98% of U.S. companies had some sort of DE&I program as of 2019.

However, if you ask those “diverse hires” about their company’s DE&I programs, only about a quarter of that diverse talent feels tangible benefits from those programs. Moreover, research suggests that most DE&I programs that focus on diversity do not meaningfully increase diversity in the long-term.

Why is that? Why do so many DE&I programs fall short or outright fail in achieving their stated objectives?

In pondering this question, I found myself recalling a dinner conversation with a group of software engineer friends a few years ago.

The night was brimming with good food and laughter, until I – the only non-engineer at the table – joked about my regret in moving away from my undergrad major (which was related to computer science) and therefore from a lucrative career path. One of them responded enthusiastically, “It’s not too late! You’ve learned coding, and it’s gonna be a lot easier for you to get hired by (his tech giant employer) – you know, “woman” check, “Asian” check.”

I quickly lost my appetite.

I don’t blame my friend. What he said was neither malicious nor, unfortunately, false. But his comment made me realize some of the ways organizations’ diversity-focused DE&I programs have fallen short. These programs can, unintentionally, reinforce some of the very biases and prejudices they are designed to reduce. These programs can deepen silos and divisions rather than build bridges and foster greater understanding. And these programs can fail in enabling organizations to tap into the real potential of diversity in the workplace.

This incident, and the years of research that followed, also revealed to me the root of these DE&I program pitfalls – leaders and organizations of these failed programs engaged in their DE&I initiatives with either a flawed mindset or a flawed approach.

The Flawed Mindset: DE&I as A Problem to Be Solved

Modern DE&I in the United States originated as a response to the civil rights movement in 1960s. Following the enactment of several laws on the local, state, and federal levels to protect the rights of historically marginalized groups, organizations began to invest in diversity programs to ensure compliance and to reduce or prevent discrimination lawsuits.

In the decades that followed, civil rights movements have advanced and societal expectations have shifted. However, the motivation for organizations to engage in DE&I work has not evolved with the times. Many businesses remain primarily motivated by public pressure or legal risk when it comes to their DE&I work. As a result, many leaders and organizations still regard DE&I as a problem to be solved, rather than an advantage to be gained.

This mindset rooted in preventing legal liability has tangible consequences on the success of DE&I initiatives. Behavioral science experiments have revealed that when behaviors are driven purely by extrinsic motives, such as legal compliance, that behavior will not last long nor produce the best results. Moreover, when leaders and organizations seem reluctant about or not fully committed to their DE&I efforts, employees and other stakeholders recognize and react to that reluctance. A seeming hesitancy or lack of commitment to DE&I can discourage employees from taking any of their organization’s DE&I efforts seriously.

At its core, DE&I work seeks to create a change in employees, specifically a change in employee behavior. An individual’s behavior is influenced by how the goal of the behavior change is framed or worded. Research has found that when we want to provoke a change in behavior, presenting the goal of that behavior change in a positive frame (i.e., If you do X, you will gain something positive and/or will avoid suffering some negative harm) is more effective than when presented in a negative frame (i.e., If you don’t do X, you will fail to attain a possible gain and/or will possibly suffer some negative harm).

In the case of DE&I work, narratives that center the goal of DE&I work within negative frames, (e.g., If we don’t engage in DE&I work, we could face litigation, criticism, and reputational harm) can be ineffective when it comes to engaging employees in DE&I. Moreover, DE&I work narratives couched in negative frames can actually produce resistance, resentment, and/or blame among stakeholders.

In many ways what has been lacking in the flawed mindset around organizational DE&I is a narrative with a positive frame about why DE&I efforts are worth engaging in at all.

The Remedy: DE&I as an Opportunity to Build Competitive Advantage

What is a narrative about organizational DE&I with a positive frame that fosters a more effective mindset?

The answer: Engaging in DE&I work is an opportunity to build competitive advantage for your organization.

Over the past two decades, numerous studies have illustrated the ways DE&I can create a competitive advantage for organizations. For example, organizations that achieve diverse and inclusive workplaces have been found to have stronger:

  • Financial returns,
  • Employee engagement,
  • Talent acquisition and retention, and
  • Brand differentiation.

When DE&I is recognized as an opportunity to build competitive advantage, it becomes much easier to get buy-in across the organization. Moreover, when DE&I is understood within a competitive advantage mindset, it naturally changes how organizations approach DE&I work – moving away from passively preventing legal liability to engaging in the work of achieving the meaningful benefits of DE&I.

Therefore, shifting from a mindset of DE&I as a problem to be solved to a mindset of DE&I as an opportunity to build competitive advantage is the necessary first step to create and execute effective DE&I initiatives.

However, mindset alone is not enough for DE&I initiatives to succeed.

The Flawed Approach: Hire for Diversity and Manage for Assimilation

Another major pitfall for DE&I programs that focus on diversity happens when these programs are designed to achieve primarily numerical workforce goals. When organizations set goals such as “hiring x% of underrepresented groups,” DE&I work ends at the surface level – increased representation and a workforce that looks more diverse.

However, as those organizational hiring targets are met, these new employees’ daily experience in the workplace has just begun.

In the absence of a culture where everyone feels encouraged to speak up and show up authentically as they are, and when managers are not trained in the skills to navigate diverse workforces, employees will be pressured to assimilate to the higher-status or dominant group – in most cases, white, straight, able-bodied, cisgender male.

And the cost of assimilation in the workplace is high.

Assimilation corrodes one’s psychological safety and contributes to employee strain and burnout. As a result, employees who feel pressured to assimilate exhibit lower engagement, lower productivity, and are more likely to leave the company. Additionally, at the organizational level, assimilation naturally leads teams to group think, depriving the organization of the real value that a diversity of thought could bring – innovative ideas, solutions, and strategies that can advance the organization.

Beyond the cost of assimilation, numerical workforce goals that are designed to benefit historically marginalized groups can also end up causing more harm than good. If people have reason to believe that someone was hired or promoted because of some aspect of their identity, people tend to assume that the person must not have been hired or promoted because of their competence. Think back to my dinner table conversation – “woman” check, “Asian” check. This dynamic erodes trust, negatively impacts employee relationships, and could end up becoming a vicious self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, there is a different approach to DE&I that more reliably leads to true diversity in the workplace. And the key to this approach is to not focus on diversity.

The Remedy: Aim to Create an Inclusive Culture

Diversity can never realize its potential in a vacuum. When we talk about the ways diversity can enhance employee engagement, innovation, and problem-solving, we often leave out the foundation necessary to realize those benefits of diversity. And that is an inclusive culture – a culture that attracts and retains diverse talent, where everyone feels valued, like they belong, and set up for success.

Without this important foundation, establishing diversity in the workplace can create more harm than good. Simply bringing people of different identities to the table often creates more tension and conflict. However, within an inclusive culture, differences and tension can become opportunities to encourage learning, foster understanding, and strengthen team dynamics. Moreover, an inclusive culture enables organizations to realize the benefits of diversity, and thereby build competitive advantage.

Therefore, the starting place of any DE&I work should be creating an inclusive culture. And that means shifting the focus away from achieving numerical workforce targets to doing the work of eliminating barriers for historically marginalized groups and creating an inclusive environment at work.


With the right mindset and the right approach, organizations can create far more effective DE&I initiatives.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Logos Consulting Group. Last month, Logos’ founder Helio Fred Garcia reflected on leading through the turmoil we have seen in the world over the past 20 years, and how we have helped our clients do the same. Among the turmoil that has racked the world is how to reckon with historic and ongoing injustice and inequity.

Although most visible in the past two years, we have seen a drastic evolution in the field of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) over the past two decades. This evolution was driven by a shift in societal expectations, which has now led to an urgent demand for organizations and society to do DE&I work better and faster.

How can we understand this evolution in DE&I? And what does it mean for organizations grappling with DE&I work today?

A Focus on Compliance: The Beginnings of DE&I

Modern Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) in the United States arose out of the civil rights movements in the 1960s. These civil rights movements, as well as societal expectations around DE&I, largely focused on legal rights, specifically securing legislation that would interrupt various forms segregation and discrimination and grant historically marginalized groups greater rights, protection, and access to opportunities. Those civil rights movements resulted in the passage of series of laws in the 1960s and 1970s that outlawed discrimination based on color, race, sex, religion, national origin, and age. Discrimination based on disability was also made illegal in 1990, while work on establishing legal rights and protection for LGBTQIA+ people was just beginning to build a new momentum and focus.

The establishment of legal protection for various marginalized groups at the federal, state, and local level in the last decades of the 20th century set the tone for DE&I work at the beginning of the 21st century.

In the early 2000s, the creation of organizational DE&I work was primarily focused on ensuring compliance with these various laws and regulations, as well as to reduce discrimination lawsuits. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a few high-profile lawsuits shook the finance industry. Specifically, three major Wall Street firms paid between $50 million to $100 million each to settle sex discrimination lawsuits. Another major bank spent nearly half a billion dollars to settle multiple race discrimination lawsuits over a 15-year period.

Organizations began to invest in diversity training as a way to minimize the increasing threat of discrimination lawsuits. However, studies quickly showed that diversity trainings rarely created a more inclusive or diverse workplace. In some cases, diversity trainings made matters worse.

Why? Because trainings focused preventing lawsuits – rather than promoting true diversity and inclusion – can unintentionally otherize marginalized groups, play into existing biases, and solidify prejudice. In some ways, the failure of diversity trainings reflects the shortfalls of the legislative victories in the 20th century – while new laws were enacted to protect marginalized groups from segregation and discrimination, the underlying oppressions and prejudices that necessitated those laws being enacted were never fully addressed. As a result, while most marginalized groups have some form of legal protection against discrimination, many people from those groups experience ongoing oppression, aggression, and inequity in their daily lives, including at work.

Despite the evidence that diversity trainings often failed to promote diversity or inclusion, companies double-downed on the same compliance-based, diversity-focused approach as the world headed into the 2010s.

But that would soon change. Over the course of the 2010s, several social justice movements began to build new momentum, evolving and expanding in their reach. As Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and other social justice movements were created, and societal expectations began to shift. For example, after the #MeToo movement gained traction, organizations were now expected to take seriously and actively address allegations of workplace sexual harassment or abuse.

As societal expectations around DE&I began to shift, workplaces began to recognize the need to change with times. A passive, compliance-focused approach to DE&I did not seem to be enough to meet these new expectations. DE&I practitioners shifted their focus from achieving diversity to creating truly inclusive workplaces.

And then 2020 happened.

2020: An Inflection Point in DE&I

It’s fair to say that 2020 was a year like no other. Amid devastation and dismay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 fundamentally changed the landscape of DE&I in the United States.

A series of brutal events against black and brown Americans, in particular the murder of George Floyd, put the Black Lives Matter movement front and center of the national conversation. Ten of thousands of people protested in cities across the country, calling for the government to take seriously the police brutality faced by African Americans. 2020 also saw a sharp rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the country due to rhetoric around the pandemic. As the violence against Asians and Asian Americans escalated over the next year, particularly after the horrific shooting spree in Atlanta targeting Asian women, the #StopAsianHate movement was created. Moreover, the pandemic itself highlighted the disparities that exist in our society, as people of color, women, and people with disabilities were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

The events of 2020 put a blinding spotlight on historic and ongoing injustice and inequity. As a result, a new, urgent expectation formed. There was now an expectation that governments and institutions needed to correct the wrongs too long faced by marginalized groups. And those wrongs needed to be corrected now.

Moreover, organizations also had a role to play. People expected organizations to commit to advancing DE&I in society at large and to fully living that commitment within their organization. This included directly addressing any practices or dynamics that enabled bias, exclusion, or inequity internally.

Organizations very quickly felt the effects of these shifted expectations. Many organizations saw their stakeholders directly asking what those organizations were doing to eliminate systemic barriers for marginalized groups and to promote social justice at large. Organizations slow to respond to these shifting expectations saw their reputation put at risk, trust fall, and some stakeholders decide to disassociate from that organization altogether. For example, according to a 2021 study, 70% Americans are ready to cancel a brand if it does anything offensive related to racial justice issues.

Leaders of organizations were also examined even more critically than before. If those leaders were found to be discriminatory or biased in any way, now or historically, those leaders were called out – sometimes very publicly. And people expected those leaders to be held accountable for problematic that behavior.

2020 solidified shifts in societal expectations that had begun to form a decade before. Now, organizations across industries were expected to foster safe, inclusive work environments. Existing DE&I efforts were scrutinized with amplified impatience, and any perception of performative allyship – grand statements of support followed by either inaction or surface-level action – was no longer tolerated. Long-standing behaviors or dynamics once considered ‘perfectly fine’ were now regularly called out, with a clear call for change.

As a result, organizations recognized the need to commit to advancing DE&I, both within their organizations and beyond. Organizational DE&I trainings quickly went into high demand. However, successfully calibrating DE&I efforts to create a truly inclusive work environment continues to be a struggle for many organizations.

What’s Next: The Future of DE&I

Since Logos was founded 20 years ago, societal expectations of DE&I have moved away from simply ensuring for “equal access” to opportunities to ensuring that all people “thrive and belong” once they have access to those opportunities. That is why the terminology shifted away from a sole focus on ‘Diversity’ to ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.’

Today, the bar is much higher for organizations than it was 20 years ago when it comes to expectations around DE&I. Multiple studies have found that Generation Z, the future of our workforce and consumer base, are much more value- and identity-driven when deciding which brand to buy from and which company to work for. Specifically, Gen Z cares more deeply about organizational ethics, diversity and inclusion practices, and social impact than previous generations. Gen Z is more likely to expect a brand to “take a stand” on justice issues. And they are also quick to gather information and call out any seeming contradiction or inconsistency in an organization’s DE&I practice.

Creating an inclusive work culture – where everyone feels valued, respected, and like they belong – is key for successful DE&I work based on current societal expectations. Many organizations are still trying to figure out how to clear this higher bar.

And yet the world we live in is constantly evolving. That bar may shift again, especially given the changing demographics within the United States. The 2020 Census indicates that the U.S. population is the most racially and ethnically diverse in history. Nearly half of Generation Z are minorities in terms of race or ethnicity. Moreover, the United States Census Bureau predicted that the U.S population will continue to become more racially and ethnically pluralistic. As demographics shift, so too may the focus of DE&I shift as well. Therefore, leaders need to regularly inspect their organization’s DE&I initiatives through the lens of current societal expectations and adapt based on those expectations.

As we look to the future, the question for leaders to ask when it comes to DE&I is: “Is my organization’s DE&I work ready to meet the expectations of today and tomorrow?”


This reflective piece is part of our 20th anniversary celebration. Throughout this anniversary year, we will be sharing a series of reflections on the shifts and trends we have been following in business and in the world over the past twenty years, as well as advice to leaders and organizations navigating through the challenges we see today.

“Our organization wants to celebrate [X] Heritage/History Month, but we are not sure how.”

This has been an increasingly common concern we hear from clients.

Heritage month celebrations in the United States were established by congressional proclamations during the 20th century. Now, they are celebrated throughout the year, commemorating the histories and contributions of historically marginalized communities to this country.

Celebrating heritage months as an organization can be tricky. Leaders are often afraid to come across as inauthentic or opportunistic and worry about causing more harm than good by missing the mark in celebrating these heritage months. As a result, many organizations and leaders, with the best of intentions, end up doing nothing at all.

As with any other form of DE&I work, there are no easy solutions or shortcuts. Successful DE&I initiatives require commitment and hard work. However, when done right, heritage month celebrations can help build trust with those people who matter most to your organization. Moreover, when the recognition and celebration of non-dominant identities becomes a natural part of an organization’s culture, that organization will become more inclusive and employees will become more engaged in their work.

In thinking about celebrating heritage months at your organization, there is a simple, yet powerful mindset that can help leaders and organizations approach this challenge: Meet the expectations of those people who matter most to you.

I will unpack what this means by using this year’s Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month as an example and offer practical advice for how you can celebrate heritage months the right way in your organization.

Shifting Societal Expectations: A Historical Problem Brought to the Forefront

At Logos Consulting Group, we teach clients that trust is the natural consequence of promises fulfilled, expectations met, and values lived. When it comes any form of DE&I work, having a current, up-to-date understanding of societal expectations is essential in thinking about meeting stakeholder expectations.

For the AAPI community, the rise of anti-Asian hatred since the beginning of Covid-19 has continued into 2022. According to the NYPD Hate Crimes Dashboard, 158 incidents of hate crimes against Asians were reported between March 2020 and December 2021. Hate crimes against Asians increased so much so that the New York Police Department created an Asian Hate Crime Task Force.

However, nothing we are seeing today is new. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have suffered from systemic racism and oppression throughout the history of the United States. People from India were brought into colonial Virginia in the early 1620s as servants and slaves. The 1871 the Chinese Massacre resulted in 10% of Los Angeles’s Chinese American population being killed. The Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 prohibited all Chinese immigration to the US. The 1924 Immigration Act was an explicit race-based immigration ban against Asians. The Japanese internment between 1942-1946 resulted in 120,000 people of Japanese descent being incarcerated in US concentration camps. And these are just a few examples of this systemic anti-Asian racism and oppression from US history.

What makes matters worse for the AAPI community is the “model minority” myth, a perception of universal acceptance and success of AAPI people who bear few traumatic racial struggles. As a result, their plight is often absent from racial justice discussions, and their suffering and contributions are often missed or glossed over in textbooks.

This systemic racism and erasure have set the tone for the AAPI community in the US for generations. Many Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders have walked around in American society with their heads down, mouths shut, and a persistent sense of otherness and inferiority. The rise of anti-Asian hate has finally, for good or for bad, shed a light on the elephant in the room.

Since the Atlanta shooting in March 2021, we’ve witnessed an outcry against Anti-Asian hate from across the country. For the first time in American history, advocacy for AAPI racial justice has been placed at the forefront of social discourse. Therefore, an expectation has been built in the AAPI community and with their allies – an expectation that their employers, partners, companies, and favorite brands will speak out and stand in solidarity with the AAPI community.

Opportunities and Risks

Given this shift of societal expectations, the 2022 AAPI Heritage Month becomes a critical moment. If organizations fail to meet those new expectations of the AAPI community and its allies, it will lead to a loss of trust among those who matter. However, if organizations succeed in meeting these new societal expectations, the trust and confidence of those who matter most will be maintained or even strengthened.

We can make this argument for all other heritage or history months. In this moment when ideologies in the US have become deeply polarized and when many ethnic cultures have been politicized and weaponized, it takes so much energy for people outside the dominant culture to check their identity at the door when they come to work.

Celebrating heritage months opens a door for necessary learning and honest conversation. It makes people in historically marginalized groups feel like they can be heard and that it is safe to bring their whole self to work.

If we don’t intentionally include, we will unintentionally exclude. Once an inclusive culture is in place, all of the positive benefits of an inclusive culture follow, such as increases in productivity, morale, creativity, collaboration, and so on.

Dos and Don’ts for Heritage Months

Given these new societal expectations, below is some practical advice to help you think about how your organization can celebrate heritage months:

  1. Show you care

In thinking about meeting stakeholder expectations, one common expectation is that all stakeholders expect you to care.

The first thing organizations and leaders can do to show they care is to utilize heritage months to facilitate learning about the history and culture of the specific community being celebrated. For example, an organization can host a screening of a relevant documentary or organize a book club or common read of a book the subject.

The second way organizations can show they care is to build understanding and advocate for solidarity, during heritage months and beyond. Using the AAPI Heritage Month as an example, you can host town hall meetings or facilitated conversations and invite AAPI employees to share their experiences and stories. As leaders, you can also personally reach out to your AAPI team members to offer support or appreciation of their contribution to the team.

  1. Address violence and oppression, while celebrating progress

Heritage months are to be celebrated – recognizing each community’s contribution to this country’s history and rejoicing in the richness and uniqueness of each cultural identity. However, we cannot celebrate cultural differences without addressing ongoing violence and oppression. Heritage months are also a reminder that we still have work to do to ensure justice and equity for all people in the US.

One way to address ongoing violence and oppression is by simply acknowledging the ongoing challenges faced by the group and announcing and/or reminding people of what action the organization is taking to address these challenges and ensure equity within and beyond the organization. For example, AAPI Heritage Month can be a great time to launch an AAPI employee resource group (ERG) or a mentorship program that focuses on sponsoring AAPI employees.

  1. Be consistent

As I noted before, all DE&I work takes commitment. Leaders and organizations need to be disciplined and consistent in celebrating all people of all identities throughout the year. Once you start celebrating heritage months, a new expectation will be formed among those who matter to you. For example, if you publicly acknowledge AAPI Heritage Month this year, the Indigenous people within your organization or among your customer base will expect you to acknowledge Native American Heritage Month in November as well.

Consistency also means that even when heritage months are over, your commitment to those communities should remain until the celebration of difference becomes a natural part of the organization’s culture.

  1. Avoid window-dressing.

Window-dressing is best understood as performative advocacy that does not pair with tangible action or the delivery of promises made. While making big promises and statements may feel right in the short-term, in the long run window-dressing further alienates marginalized groups and cultivates a toxic culture. Every statement or newsletter you push out makes implicit promises to those who matter to you. If you feel pressured to make a statement on a social issue without being prepared to follow through with real action, you are not ready to make that statement (yet).

Concluding Thoughts

The American identity was shaped collectively by a variety of races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and many other nuanced identity factors. And this is what makes the United States unique.

In the United States, we can hold pride in our uniqueness and in our diversity, while also holding and acknowledging the atrocities and injustice that are also core to this nation’s history.

This duality is also true for heritage months – heritage months come with opportunities and risks, enormous responsibility and tremendous potential. If done right, heritage months can help to lift the sense of otherness and alienation among marginalized groups and foster an inclusive culture in your organization.

In my first few years after coming to the United States from China, I was known and addressed by two names.

The first was my own name, Yinnan, given to me by my parents. The other was Iris, a name I gave myself for the ease of others in the United States – Starbucks staff, professors and classmates in graduate school, and other acquaintances.

How I introduced myself largely determined how I showed up in that space. Iris could superficially pass as an “American,” but Yinnan was an alien in this land. I reserved my true name only for those who I wanted to forge a genuine relationship with.

I juggled between the two identities for a long time. The process was mentally exhausting, but manageable. Until I faced a choice.

I was working at a three-person production shop and had been charged with reaching out to filmmakers on behalf of a film screening project. My work email was created under Yinnan, but I called myself Iris in the emails. I realized that the discrepancy might confuse people, especially if it was our first time connecting. It became clear that it was best for me to use only one name.

The question was, which one?

‘Yinnan’ is authentic to my identity. But ‘Iris’ makes cross-cultural experiences and my career development much easier to manage. I consulted with my boss at that time, and he responded without thinking, “Why don’t you keep your Chinese name? We have one American, one Australian, and one Chinese at the firm. We’re literally from all over the world. Isn’t that cool?”

I was shocked by that answer. It had never occurred to me that being anything other than American could be “cool.” Since then, I have strictly used my real name.

It was only years later that I was able to decipher what that moment truly meant to me. It cracked open the shell I built around myself and gave me permission to welcome and show up as the person I truly am. My former boss may have forgotten about that interaction years ago, but I remember and will forever be grateful for it.

That is an example of a micro-affirmation and how powerful micro-affirmations can be.

Micro-affirmations are small positive messages that explicitly recognize and validate an individual and their identity. Researcher Mary Rowe, who studies micro-messages, described micro-affirmations as, “tiny acts of opening doors to opportunity, gestures of inclusion, and caring and graceful acts of listening.”

The complexity and enormity of what it takes to thoughtfully engage in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) work can be overwhelming, even for the most devoted leaders and organizations taking on this work. Micro-affirmations can be a starting place for those seeking to create a more inclusive workplace.

Micro-affirmations are those expressions of empathy and appreciation, that little extra effort taken to understand and respect someone who may be different from you. While micro-affirmations matter to everyone, they are especially significant for groups and individuals who traditionally have been excluded or underrepresented. Micro-affirmations can affirm their value, something that has oftentimes been neglected or diminished. Like microaggressions, micro-affirmations can have a disproportionately large impact on an individual’s self-image and self-esteem.

Committing to these small daily acts of inclusion can send a powerful message throughout your organization. Micro-affirmations can be as simple as giving your undivided attention to someone speaking, being genuinely curious about and inviting other people to share their opinions, or asking a person to teach you how to pronounce their name if you’re not sure about the pronunciation.

When coming from leaders, micro-affirmations can also model inclusive behavior and explicitly communicate expectations for your team. For example, if a male employee has a tendency of interrupting his female colleagues in meetings, you can intervene when you witness this behavior and say, “I’m sorry, I want to hear what she has to say first.”

The rule of thumb within micro-affirmations is to be genuine. Inauthentic micro-affirmations can risk tipping over into microaggressions.

While small in comparison to other grandiose DE&I efforts, micro-affirmations can be a force multiplier in cultivating, modeling, and maintaining an inclusive workplace for leaders and organizations.

So, if you are wondering what you can do to advance DE&I in your organization or to simply to be a better ally to marginalized communities, consider starting with micro-affirmations.

On August 5, 2021, Logos Fellow Yinnan Shen was quoted in Massage Magazine on how DE&I practices improve businesses.

The article outlines the ways that the killing of George Floyd and the social unrest and political events that followed the tragedy have changed expectations around companies’ DE&I efforts and commitment.

Shen, who teaches a course on Elevating Multicultural Competence at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering, recommends that companies perform a “culture check” to check to see if their diversity and inclusion goals are being met.

“No matter what kind of diversity you want to promote, it is always worthy to do a culture check first,” she said. “When it comes to generational diversity [for example], ask whether the culture inherently only attracts people of a certain age range. If the answer is yes, then you have a culture problem. And you won’t be able to see any changes in diversity until you change the culture.”

Read the full article here.

On June 28, 2021, Logos Fellow Yinnan Shen quoted in an InHerSight article on cultivating an inclusive and healthy office environment for all employees. The article offers insights and tips from experts on what it takes to create an inclusive, respectful culture in the workplace.


According to Shen, who teaches a course on Elevating Multicultural Competence at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering, employers need be intentional about hiring and prioritizing diversity and inclusion in upper management, as culture is created from the top down.


“Is the leadership heterogeneous? Are diverse voices and perspectives included in planning processes? If not, a good starting point is to make sure that you have diverse voices in the room where decisions are made,” she explains.


Shen further noted that to create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace culture, companies need to go beyond performative measures and prioritize inclusion rather than diversity.


“Yes, it’s good to have women and people of color sitting as part of your company,” says Shen. “But it’s more important to truly respect and value their input and understand why their presence is necessary. Diversity doesn’t drive innovation or performance; inclusion does.”


Read the full article here.

On April 13, 2021, Logos Fellow Yinnan Shen was interviewed by Amine Rahal at Thrive Global on the difficulties she has dealt with as an Asian woman in corporate America.

When asked about unique challenges she has faced, Shen described the difficulties of having a non-American name, dealing with stereotypes at work as an Asian woman, and professionally conducting herself while maintaining a low profile to avoid attention.

“Because of the model minority myth, we Asian Americans are extra pressured to prove our worthiness in the workplace. We’re constantly in the mindset that respect to us is earned not given. We must not let people down, we must be diligent and perform well, otherwise we don’t deserve to be part of America,” she explained. “Additionally, because of the persistent sense of otherness we feel in this country, we’re accustomed to just be quiet and work hard. “If I can just blend into the mass, maybe no one would notice that I’m different, maybe I would belong.”

She also described how the rise in anti-Asian hate creates new challenges for Asians and Asian Americans, and what is required to lessen or overcome acts of discrimination Asians and Asian Americans face.

“Culture change will be the key, whether for an organization or for a country as a whole,” Shen explained. “Leaders have a responsibility to model and reward the behaviors they hope to see more. They also have the responsibility to create an inclusive environment, where resources are equally distributed, and where all people are treated with respect and valued as who they are. Until an inclusive culture is in place, any progress in overcoming acts of discrimination will be limited.”

She closed her interview with a message for how non-Asian allies can support Asians and Asian Americans facing discrimination and harassment.

“We must stand in solidarity with one another – with the Asian community, with the black community, with the Latino community, with the indigenous community, with the LGBTQIA community, and all other marginalized groups,” said Shen. “When all those who face oppression and our allies stand together, when we fight for one another instead of against each other, when we lift up each other’s struggles rather than tear down and compare our struggles, when we recognize that, as Emma Lazarus said, “until we are all free none of us is free,” we have a chance to make the dream of a better, freer, more just country a reality.”

Read the full article here.

On April 6, 2021, Logos Fellow Yinnan Shen was quoted in Zengler News on why corporations should have a diverse employee pool. Shen teaches a course on Elevating Multicultural Competence at the Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering.


According to Shen, studies show a direct and positive correlation between diversity and other variables such as financial performance, employee morale, and productivity.


“The reason we want people of different gender, race, and age at the table is because of their unique experiences,” Shen explained. 


Read the full article here.

On March 30, 2021, Logos Fellow Yinnan Shen was quoted in a Forbes article on the new approaches to DE&I that companies are taking. The article outlines the current state of diversity and inventories the way that current DE&I approaches fail to achieve sustained diversity and inclusion.

Shen, who teaches a course on Elevating Multicultural Competency in the Professional Development and Leadership program at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, made the case for why diversity matters to corporations.

“The reason we want people of different gender, race, and age at the table is because their unique experiences,” Shen explained.

Read the full article here.