Tag Archives: #Access

How and Why DEIAB?

How and Why DEIAB?

            The vast majority of the attacks on diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and belonging (DEIAB) initiatives and programs, use anecdotal examples of poorly executed workshops or other strategies to dissemble and discredit the entire field and its raison d’etre. This is an old (see ancient Greece) and frequently effective technique for destroying one’s political nemeses. The mountains of data that we haul out to prove the efficacy of competently implemented DEIAB initiatives is not going to be examined by those who are the intended audience of these smear campaigns, as they do not read the same periodicals, follow the same influencers, or travel in the same circles that DEIAB experts do, that is the point of these tactics—do not worry about being asked for the receipts—make the slanderous statement and wait for the spiral of mis and disinformation to do its work.


            Before I embark on how to counter this onslaught, let’s examine why it matters. There have been many studies[1] during the past few decades that establish the following DEIAB benefits: diversity makes us better, better workers, thinkers, writers, people; equity not only affirms our commitment to a democratic society, but helps us to understand what the rules of engagement are which in turn, helps us to navigate our relationships and roles; inclusion, especially for so many humans who have historically been excluded as a result of bias, creates a safe, nurturing environment where we can bring and be our best selves—productive and innovative; access is necessary for all humans to fully participate via a ramp for wheelchairs or closed-captioning during a zoom meeting; and belonging, inspires us to want to be somewhere—be fully engaged and giving 100%.   

            Now, nothing that really matters is easy. Nothing that really makes a difference is ‘one and done.’ [think: diet and exercise – sorry!] For many years I have been telling potential clients that we do not do training—we provide interactive education on the cause and effect of DEIAB. For example, we might examine the history of sexism and its ongoing impact on society or the impact of racism and its perpetual institutionalization in organizations. Then, we can work on developing ways to counter these systemic problems.

How: Listen.

The reason that we conduct surveys, interviews and focus groups or listening sessions, as well as reviewing a clients’ policies, protocols, and various communications (including job descriptions and marketing materials), is that we need to know where to begin. Every organization has a unique culture and subcultures based on its mission, vision, goals, and strategies. If you listen, the members of your organization will tell you what matters to them, how they are being treated, and if they feel included. You do need to listen on a regular basis, so that you can notice shifts, hints, and indicators of problems before they escalate. That means conducting assessments at least on a biennial basis.

How: Discern.

            Once you have this very valuable information, you have to decide what it is you will do with it. If nothing, then stop here. If, on the other hand, you believe that knowledge is power, the power to change say your diet based on a diagnosis of diabetes, then, let’s get to work. That diet will need to be customized and long term. What are you able to commit to? What resources do you have? What resources do you need? What are your limitations? Board approval, budget restrictions, political pressure? Those limitations need to be identified before they can be addressed.            

How: Communicate.

            Share the results of your assessment with your employees. Follow that basic communication rule and share what you heard to make sure that you got it right. Many employers have told me that they are not comfortable sharing the results of a DEIAB assessment with employees because that information might be shared with the public and result in a negative perception about the organization. If a person has cancer but does not have a diagnostic assessment conducted to determine if they have cancer, does the cancer cease to exist? No. Also, if your organization has problems with DEIAB a fair percentage of your employees already know that. They just may be uncomfortable to tell you to your face. So, share your DEIAB assessment results and discuss what those results indicate. What caused the negative outcomes in the first place.

How: Educate.

            Use the knowledge that you gained during your assessment to determine what competency and skill gaps exist—especially with your leadership and managerial staff. My observation is that the majority of leaders and managers in organizations have not developed critical—fundamental leadership skills. These gaps exacerbate DEIAB challenges because a lack of cultural awareness on top of poor communication and delegation skills create environments that, at least diminish engagement, productivity, and staff longevity, and at worst, result in hostile work environments and potential EEO violations. A 3-hour online seminar on effective management is a waste of money and time. Invest in education. Every manager and leader should participate in ongoing, long term development as well as coaching, and team feedback such as 360 assessments and reciprocal performance evaluations.

We customize our leadership and manager educational programs to meet organizations and individuals where they are. We conduct preparatory surveys to find out what education and training individuals have had and what their response to those experiences is. We also use those surveys to find out what their particular challenges and concerns are surrounding DEIAB. This enables us to fine tune our educational programs so that they are effective and relevant. Separating leaders, managers, and non-managerial staff is an important part of creating a safe space where participants can speak freely, share concerns, and learn from their peers. By using an anonymizing tool during sessions we help participants to safely address these issues and engage in meaningful discussions without fear of judgment or repercussions.

How: Prioritize.

    Using the feedback gathered during our sessions, we are able to help clients develop sustainable, tangible DEIAB strategies in a collaborative manner. These strategies must be part of the organizational strategic plan, core mission, vision, values, and goals—not an add on. It is easy to criticize initiatives that get second thoughts and leftovers in terms of resources, whether financial or human. So, if DEIAB is a priority, treat it as such.

            If an organization is committed to DEIAB, then, you need to put your money where your mouth is. People, your employees, clients, customers, constituents, and community members know the difference between talk and action. The level of disillusionment[2] that is, in part a response to a lack of trust in what leaders communicate versus what they do, is contributing to high employee turnover rates[3] during the past several years as well as quiet quitting[4] and general disengagement.

            The most effective DEIAB strategies are also reasonable financial investments for organizations. Our most successful clients have ongoing structured mentoring programs which contribute to more inclusive working relationships, more effective managers and leaders and increased employee engagement and retention.

            Investing in education, employee mentoring, ongoing assessments, and strategic planning are not new approaches to DEIAB, I have been preaching and practicing these for many years. It is the integration of these actions that create a resilient and pivotal foundation that can withstand the onslaught of voguish attacks on DEIAB when they pop up.

            If your organization is struggling to balance the benefits of DEAIB and your core values against the politicized myths being used in an attempt to polarize people and diminish those values, please give me a call. I would love to discuss how we can support you during these very challenging times.


~ Wendy
May 09, 2024

Wendy Amengual Wark
Founding Partner
Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC

[1] Standing firm against the escalating assault on equity, diversity, and inclusion   https://www.apa.org/topics/equity-diversity-inclusion/standing-against-assault-equity-diversity-inclusion

[2] UN General Assembly “As ‘Intense Frustration and Disillusionment’ Brew amid Raging Global Conflict, Economic Uncertainty, Revitalizing General Assembly is Increasingly Critical, President Says”  https://press.un.org/en/2023/ga12560.doc.htm

The ‘Caudillo Syndrome’ is spreading around the world as economic disillusionment pushes voters to bet on populist strongmen https://fortune.com/2024/02/28/caudillo-syndrome-spreading-world-economic-disillusionment-voters-bet-on-populist-strongmen-politics/

Despair makes young US men more conservative ahead of US election, poll shows

[3] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: JOB OPENINGS AND LABOR TURNOVER – MARCH 2024  https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/jolts.pdf

[4] Forget ‘Quiet Quitting’. In 2024 Employees Want Employers To ‘Quietly Manage’


We Are Not Alone

     Each year I endeavor to start anew with a fresh, positive outlook. I wish that for you, as well. Each of us has to navigate our private, personal struggles as well as the macro challenges that we are confronted with as a community. War, death by guns, food insecurity, climate change, racism, sexism, antisemitism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and on and on. Typing this list is depressing in itself but much more so when I reflect on where we are globally as compared with say, January of 2009. So, I have tried to follow the adage and stay silent as I do not have much to say that is very ‘nice.’ Having to fight back against a relentless assault on democracy, equity, justice, inclusion, diversity, and access is not nice. It is not easy. It is not cheerful. It is exhausting and depressing to have to fight against those who are intent upon dragging us all back to the good ‘ole days when only a small percentage of people had any rights at all.

     I am not trying to ruin 2024 for you, I am actually trying to encourage you. I do not have to cite any recent events (unless you have been fortunate enough to have been completely unplugged for the past three or four weeks) for most of you to think “Here we go,” and then, perhaps let out a sigh of resignation.

     The arguments against diversity, equity, inclusion, and access are old tired screeds that had no basis in reality when they were hurled by ultra conservatives in the 1990s and have no basis in reality now. Based on substantial research data and results, we know that we do better work when we work with diverse groups of people. We know that people with diverse experiences, perspectives, and communications styles think differently, resulting in problems being solved more rapidly and especially, more effectively by diverse groups. We know that the more education people have, the less likely they are to experience unwanted pregnancy, poverty, and violence. We know that creating equal access (true equal access) brings engagement, success, and joy—actual joy to people in their work and in their studies!

     So, why are those who yell the loudest being given so much bandwidth? Why are their distortions of the truth being repeated by well-meaning intelligent people on social media and across the dominant media outlets? Why are public and private institutions making bad decisions about how to effectively manage free speech and remain committed to being diverse, inclusive, and accessible?

     Because bullies win by yelling and making a lot of noise—bluster. Bluster is distracting and upsetting and very effective at keeping us from doing the critical work that we must continue to do.

     My resolution for 2024: remain focused. Focus is a critical function when there are those intent on distraction us. Disturbing us. Ultimately, disappearing us. Every fascist regime throughout history has silenced those fighting to save democracy—journalists , academics, advocates, and activists—by disappearing them.

     We will not be disappeared. I will not be disappeared. I know that silence equals death. In that knowledge comes the understanding that I must speak up. I am not talking about having an urgent need to express my thoughts and opinions. I must speak up as a witness, advocate, ally, and activist. I have been in this space of speaking up for those who have been silenced since I was a child and so, If I cannot speak up, who can?

     We are a diverse nation. We are a diverse planet of people. We need each other to thrive or none of us thrive. Those who seek to rob our inclusion, equity, access, and value know this and so they will do their best to divide us—create wedges between us based on our differences—and conquer us. This is also a very old tactic. It is a very effective tactic and that is why it is dusted off and used again and again by those seeking to rob us of our rights to vote, to speak, to pursue happiness. They twist words and meanings to confuse and diminish their effectiveness. They state things that they know are patently untrue and wait for the bickering and debating to keep everyone distracted and then chip away at laws—rights and protections—that took centuries to attain.

     Yesterday I was speaking with my dear friends Derrick Kikuchi and his husband Craig Wiesner (owners of  Reach and Teach and activists for social equity and justice as well as providers of a sanctuary that gives us “hope that does not disappoint”), and they reminded me that I am not alone.

     As a practitioner of EEO/DEIBA one can feel isolated, targeted, and alone. We need to remind ourselves and each other that we are not alone. I am here for you. You are here for me. We are here together fighting the good fight, doing the important work.

     Maintaining focus is absolutely critical. It is hard to keep our focus when we are distracted, or disturbed, silenced or disappeared by bullies yelling lies and threats. I will stay calm and speak the truth. I encourage you to do the same.

     This is not about politics. This is about protecting ourselves, our planet, and the future.

     If you need an affirmation or reminder as to why you must continue to do this work that is exhilaratingly exhausting, please reach out. I am here for you—with you—as your ally, advocate, and friend.

     Wishing you peace, love, joy, and inclusion in 2024, and beyond!

     ~ Wendy

Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC

January 10, 2024


A Declaration

A Declaration

A Declaration of Independence from Great Britain was signed 247 years ago by 56 white men, 34 of whom kept other human beings in bondage denying them the very freedom they themselves demanded.

Currently, in the United States, there is a small group of people who are impacting our rights, our independence by being disrespectful of our laws and boundaries, by responding to the pressures of current populist trends. How can I claim to want my rights, my freedoms protected while denying access to those same rights and freedoms for others? This is fundamental to civil rights, human rights.

I cannot imagine having independence without embracing interdependence. I first wrote about this ten years ago and a friend reminded me that Independence Day is the perfect time to reflect on how important it is that we remember that whether we like it or not, we are interdependent.

As an example of our interdependence on a global scale, I live in New York City and like many other cities across the United States, we have recently had to deal with unhealthy air quality as a result of smoke from fires in Canada. The smoke does not respect political borders. It responds to wind currents and air pressure.

I believe that interdependence, inclusion, diversity, equity, and access for all are critical to our independence. There is a tacit understanding that we must cooperate with each other if we want to get anywhere. The alternative is chaos. To be part of a mob that allows a few bullies to grab and push and pull and take what they want when they want it regardless of the rights of others. To disregard the damage that this causes.

I have always sought to find and nurture clarity out of chaos – to celebrate our independence – or the ideal of our independence as something that we must continue to aspire to. I see our interdependence as a path to our independence. Freedom from fascism, racism, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism, ableism, and all other forms of discrimination.

Let’s demonstrate our commitment to independence by celebrating our interdependence. We can come together, and each contribute to a bountiful society. One bringing a dish of food, another building a table, another, playing music, and another making sure that everyone is served.

A Declaration of Interdependence, a 4 minute film celebrating interdependence. Enjoy! https://www.letitripple.org/adeclarationofinterdependence


~ Wendy

Wendy Amengual Wark
Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC
July 4, 2023



Take Affirmative Action Today!

For decades people have pushed back against affirmative action laws. Those people rarely understood the letter or the spirit of affirmative action. I have been asked hundreds of times if affirmative action requires a quota, a set percentage of Black, indigenous, and other people of color or members of other underrepresented groups to be admitted to an academic institution. The answer is consistently ‘no’.

Organizations of all kinds continue to complain that they cannot find qualified members of underrepresented groups when they search for recruits either in academia or the workplace. This is why the laws requiring an effort were implemented in the first place.

Those organizations that implement inclusive strategies to achieve true diversity and equity do so with the understanding that inclusion takes work, action – affirmative action – just as any goal that one wants to achieve.

Resistance to diversity, equity and inclusion are not new in any sector. What is new is that a small minority group has effectively stripped our nation of successful strategies for achieving real diversity. They have flipped the dialogue on diversity and privilege – white privilege – claiming that institutional racism is not real. It is real. Institutional racism exists in organizations where people gain access and entry to elite educational institutions not based on their performance or merit, but an accident of birth. Legacy admissions to universities exist as they have for centuries. Legacy admissions are affirmative action. The result of the action is that a particular group of people’s privilege and access are consistently affirmed.

The school to work pipeline will not change because we wish it to be so. Diversity at all levels, at all institutions, will not occur as a result of positive thinking. The arduous process of making something a law does not occur without a cause. The effect of passing a law is the result of centuries of legal racial and other forms of discrimination.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its amendments were passed because there were and are those who do not believe the everyone should be entitled to the same access and opportunity. This has never been about anyone’s inability or refusal to work hard. This has never been about anyone’s inability to meet the intellectual standards of our greatest academic institutions. This has always been about intentional exclusion. Always.

Today is the perfect day to rededicate your organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. Take affirmative action to assure that those who are qualified, motivated, and underrepresented get access and are included. 


Wendy Amengual Wark
Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC

June 29, 2023


Fighting Words

Fighting Words

I am a pacifist. I do not own a gun or any other weapons. I use words to combat to combat ignorance, hatred, and brutality and it is definitely time to fight.

 The increasingly dangerous assault on diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) requires a coordinated and sustainable defense.

As a small business owner, I usually avoid entering into political discussions, but the body politic is at the greatest risk of my entire life. This has been many decades in the making and wishing it away, compromising, and conciliating clearly has not worked. We are in danger, and we must take action. All of us. Now. Failing means that we fall prey to those who, among other assaults on justice and equality, are trying to legalize child labor while simultaneously making certain human beings illegal. They are dangerous and relentless and amoral.

Those who have been conspiring to push civilization back to a time when less than one percent of the global population had 99 percent of the food, shelter, and representation depend on our division, frustration and exhaustion. They rely on our emotional responses to their irrational and illegal conduct. They expect us to eventually give up our rights and access and freedom.

I have interviewed many hundreds of people during investigations of discrimination claims. It is very easy to tell when most people are lying. It is equally difficult to tell when practiced liars lie. That is because they literally practice. They repeat their lies many times before sharing them with the public. Those lies are quoted in the media and further broadcast and amplified. The most practiced liars find others who will deny the truth with them begin quoting their lies, further amplifying them. Again, and again and again. This methodology is incredibly effective as those who do not know the truth can be effectively bamboozled.

Those who are adept at implementing this methodology are rewarded. Some have become phenomenally powerful members of government and industry as a result of lying. There seem to be no repercussions for doing so. On the contrary, I could name at least one dozen infamous people who are currently benefitting financially by willfully and intentionally misrepresenting the facts. As you read this, I am sure that you are picturing some of them.

The current assault on DEIA initiatives and programs that is being successfully launched by racists is intentional and unacceptable. Governmental representatives in several states are in the process of killing DEIA initiatives in the public and academic sectors as well as forcing private sector organizations with governmental contracts to do the same. This coincides with a concerted effort to censor books, free speech, and the study of history and the social sciences.

The destruction of forums for open and inclusive discourse replicates what happened in Germany, Italy, and elsewhere when fascists took control of those nations. Book burnings were a regular occurrence. Anyone who did not fit a very precise description of ‘us’ were persecuted, and that persecution ultimately escalated into the Holocaust.

Divisions are fomented and incited. Turning Blacks and Latinos against each other. Turning Jews and Asians against each other. Turning cisgender men against transgender women. Christians against the LGBTQI community. I could go on and on. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided. We cannot allow exclusion to win. We must fight. We must continue to fight.

I do not need to justify here why and how our communities, nations, and entire world benefit by embracing diversity and inclusivity, and requiring equity and access for all. The list is long and I have spent many, many years sharing it, with passion and data and evidence.

I do not need to explain why racism is bad. Why fascism is bad. Why discrimination of all kinds is bad. It should be obvious. It is even obvious to those currently vilifying being ‘woke.’ They know that everyone benefits when we live inclusively, but they espouse bizarro-world opposites to reality again and again and again.

I am tired. Incredibly tired. Everyone who does this work is. Tired of the lies. Tired of the gaslighting. Tired of the misinformation and disinformation. Tired of white fragility and tired of white supremacy.

I am so tired. Yet, I am not as tired as my ancestors were after 16 hours of cutting down sugar cane under the relentless Caribbean sun. I am not as tired as children who were chained to sewing machines on this very island of Manhattan for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. I am not as tired as the many millions who came before me who did not have the privilege to speak up without risking their lives and safety.

Decades ago, right-wing conservatives successfully turned the word ‘liberal’ into a derogatory word. They are attempting to do that again with the word ‘woke.’ I refuse to be sucked into their vortex of manipulation.

This is not just a debate about semantics. Silence does equal death. People are dying. People are being killed by racists who face minimal repercussions for committing murder.

Every single day, we – those of us who believe in diversity as a great thing, inclusion as a necessary thing, and equity as an absolute minimum requirement for survival – must persist and prevail and push back.

“But what can I do?” You ask.

  1. Get loud and stay loud. Call out racism, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism, ablism, and all forms of discrimination.
  2. Write your elected officials (this is especially critical at the local level: school boards, city councils, and state legislatures) and share your opinions and concerns.
  3. Pay attention! Encourage everyone who you know to read and listen and to pay careful attention to decisions being made by elected and appointed officials.
  4. Vote! And help other people, especially marginalized people, to register and then get to a place where they can vote.
  5. Amplify the voices of those who speak truth to power, voices that have been historically silenced and marginalized.
  6. Do not amplify the voices of the liars, gas lighters, haters, racists, and fascists.
  7. Do not be polite if someone dismisses fact as opinion. Facts are facts.
  8. Vote with your wallet. Make sure that every organization that you support is committed to DEIA and not just window-dressing. Find out if they are donating to politicians who are preaching hatred and do not contribute to that by purchasing their product or service.
  9. Connect with others who are fighting for equity and justice. Support each other, vent, cheer each other on. It is really important that we remind each other that we are not alone.
  10. Practice self-care and care for those around you. (Sometimes this means unplugging and taking a break from the doom and gloom of reality so that you can refuel and come back stronger and clearer and more focused on the mission.)

I need your help. I commit to continuing to work to keep a small group of extremists from destroying all that we have accomplished. We can only succeed if we do this together.


~ Wendy 

Wendy Amengual Wark
Founding Partner
Inclusion Strategy Solutions
Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC