What are some strategies to start a discussion surrounding inclusion in a rural workplace led by Christian, upper-middle class, white individuals who have been in their positions for 20+ years and are opposed to even the smallest of policy changes?

Context: We are a grant-funded, non-profit org specializing in work with young families, and employ approximately 150 individuals.

Alex Clermont, Director of People and Operations at TDC:

I’d want to have a real back and forth conversation to give you targeted advice, but as a starting point: what stakeholders do they listen to? Employees? Clients? Grantmakers? Community interests? Your in is probably to find a way that DEI work serves their mission and has some buy-in from people they take seriously.

Jessie Fields, Director of Talent Development and DEI at C2FO:

I agree with Alex – your leadership team’s stakeholders are a great place to start. And I’d encourage you to go back to the core values of your organization. I would bet that DEI can be linked to those in some way. Try to approach the conversation from a values-based place and what it means for an org to walk the talk. Everyone is impacted positively by true DEI work, and if folks at your org don’t believe that just yet, step one might be to demystify the assumptions or fears that exist.

✍ I have been working in an entirely different capacity at my company for over a year and have requested to have my position re-evaluated twice in that time to reflect appropriate title and compensation. It was acknowledged that my title and job description were no longer reflective of what I did. The first time I was told they were researching it and when the cycle for making that change would be. When that cycle came around and I had not received any follow up, I initiated another conversation with my own research and was told they were confident the change could be in place by the end of the month. That was 3 months ago with no update since. As much as I like what I’m doing, I feel taken advantage of. I’m looking, but in the meantime, can I formally request that I cease working in my current “role” and be allowed to do the work that aligns with my current job description and title until they are able to make the change?

Context: SaaS, ~1200 employees, held by private equity

Adrienne Rampaul, Head of People at Side:

My $0.02

Yes, you can formally request anything – but I’d encourage you to think about how your message will be received AND how it helps you get to where you want to go/achieve what you want to achieve.

 Start with: what do you want?

Do you want to cease working in your current “role” and go back to what you were doing previously?

Do you want to continue working in the capacity that you are now, in the ‘new role’?

If your goal is to be recognized for the work you are actually doing (new “role”) with a title that matches (and heck, the compensation, too!) – here’s an idea:


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  • jot down your current scope of work — essentially write up a new ‘job description’ for yourself
  • jot down a few proposed new titles that match the new scope of work you’re doing
  • do some research on those new job titles in market for market relevant comp
    • if you need help with any of the above, I bet this community would be eager to support you with the exercise!

Schedule a meeting with your manager, and take them through it

Spend some time highlighting the accomplishments you’ve made in the previous year in this new role!

  • data/facts speak loudly

Oftentimes, managers want to do this work but struggle to find the time amongst competing priorities. Leading with the benefit of the doubt here could be incredibly rewarding!

How might you manage-up, do the work for them, present them with a few proposals for them to decide on, and get it across the finish line because the lion’s share of the work’s already been done? To boot, you’re showing your manager your commitment to the work you’re doing (let them know you’re enjoying it and want to keep doing it!) — this exercise could help establish trust between you two (vs. potentially eroding it, if you were to tell them you’re not going to keep doing your current job if you’re not recognized for it).

Hope this helps! Happy to talk/coach through it IRL

Liz Clarke, Sr HR Business Partner at Environmental Health & Engineering:

First, I want acknowledge that it can feel really disheartening when you go above and beyond for your team without a meaningful acknowledgement of your efforts . Next, I’d encourage you ask yourself the following: “What got me to this point?” Sometimes there are signs along the way that our efforts aren’t being valued, and instead of assessing, we do MORE in the hopes that we’ll be recognized one day. Whether you choose to formally tell your manager that you’re sticking to your job description or not, you’ll want to make sure that you’re able to uphold the new boundaries that you’re craving. Hope this helps! Also happy to talk/coach through it IRL too. Good luck!

Hebba Youssef
Hebba Youssef

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