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- Rethinking DEI: Review of The Waymakers by Tara Jaye Frank
Rethinking DEI: Review of The Waymakers by Tara Jaye Frank
My takeaways from an easy yet thought-provoking read
“Who would you be without your racial identity and everything that comes with it?”
As I started to look over my notes on The Waymakers by Tara Jaye Frank, this question jumped out at me.
I think it’s because it mirrored a discussion we’ve been having internally at our company about getting beyond labels. This review isn’t the time for that discussion, but the serendipity was interesting. It wasn’t the only statement in the book to make me think.
The Waymakers - Short Review
If you want the TL;DR version, here’s the review I posted on Amazon:
If you want a bit more depth, read on…
The Waymakers - Full Review
I found The Waymakers an easy, enjoyable, and thought-provoking read. Having heard Ms Frank discuss the book in detail it was a no-brainer to add it to the core reading list for our Master of Equality programme, and I was delighted to delve deeper into the concept of waymaking.
The book description says:
This book shows leaders (in detail) how to do this. There are chapters covering power and privilege, assessing where you are, the path to change, the Waymaker principles (empathy, fairness, courage ownership, and integrity), core issues, talent needs, performance drivers, defining moments, and models for momentum and results.
What Are Waymakers?
Here’s what the author says about Waymakers:
Ms. Frank also tracks changes in society that affect how businesses are seen. For example, it’s no longer about businesses making claims about their greatness. It’s about how customers and employees see the business - and that’s going to increasingly depend on people having a consistently equitable and welcoming experience. In other words, making sure your norms work for everyone.
Throughout, Ms. Frank urges people to go beyond measuring and understanding to taking action. It’s not just talk. The whole book includes examples of how issues have been addressed and lessons that would-be Waymakers can apply.
One of the approaches shared is the commitment cycle, about which Ms Frank says:
Approaches to Leadership
As expected, Ms Frank also discusses leadership quite a bit, including the following, which links leadership to Waymaking:
Two final quotes summarise the approach of the book for me. First, the following quote is about figuring out what DEI is all about:
And finally, the ultimate call to action:
In other words, let’s get to it, which is pretty much how I feel about pushing for equality and anti-racism.
What I appreciated most about this book was the true stories from Ms Frank’s experiences in workplaces and organisations and the clear guidance on how people can become Waymakers, getting from where we are now to something that works better for everyone. This book is well worth your time.
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10 Standout Quotes From The Waymakers
That’s the end of my review, but I’d also like to highlight some quotes that stood out to me.
“Many white men have been conditioned to believe the world is theirs to conquer, assuming that opportunity— including jobs and promotions and pay—is not only well within their grasp but that it is also in fact theirs to lose.”
“Culture is so much more than our beliefs and values. In fact, cultures exist on three levels: the claim, the policy, and the norm.”
“When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the surveys we administer are light on relevance and impact. Asking whether employees feel comfortable talking about diversity at work has no bearing on whether the company is diverse, equitable, or inclusive.”
“Your values should shine from the inside—not the other way around.”
“We will not realize equity in the workplace without the active participation of the millions of people who sit between the poles of street-marching activism and power-centered preservation.”
“The risk of disadvantaging white men in the corporate workplace is virtually nonexistent in our lifetime. Systems, processes, values, linkages, and our human tendency to favor our own is built into the very fabric of our companies, and it will take a lot more than a conversation or several to counter the ecosystem of advantage from which they benefit. “
“You will make mistakes. This is not to say you shouldn’t be thoughtful and planful and disciplined—we have talked about all these things, and they are important. But Waymaking takes stepping into it. You have to think before you know. You have to look before you see. You have to walk before you run. And you have to try before you change.”
“Whenever there is toxic leadership anywhere in an organization, those on the margins are harmed most acutely”
“Leading for all people is work—personal and vulnerable work that asks us to set aside our “agile and competitive” ways for something much harder to practice and impossible to measure—humility.”
“Racism is alive and well. We are not in a post-racial era. We are, sadly, still embroiled in racism and all its manifestations.”
Have you read The Waymakers? If so, what did you think? Which of the quotes I shared resonated most with you?
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