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Dan RobertsonMar 7, 2024 6:35:35 AM4 min read

Creating a ‘Tomorrowmind’ for DE&I professionals

Creating a ‘Tomorrowmind’ for DE&I professionals

The DE&I landscape is changing rapidly and radically. The US Supreme Court’s judgement on race-based college admission programmes (being unlawful) is having a negative knock-on effect for DE&I initiatives across corporate America.

While the US Equal Opportunities Commission has been quick to stress that this ruling does not directly affect corporate programmes, the ruling has spooked many business leaders and, unsurprisingly, viewpoints are anchored along ideological lines.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who now owns the social media platform X, has written that: “DEI is just another word for racism. Shame on anyone who uses it.” Additionally, Musk posted: “DEI, because it discriminates on the basis of race, gender and many other factors, is not merely immoral, it is also illegal.”

In the UK the Conservative government has raised alarm bells. The UK prime minister, chancellor and other senior figures have suggested that public sector organisations should effectively de-invest in DE&I programmes and professions.

Within this context of a growing backlash against DE&I activities, the role of DE&I professionals is clearly becoming more critical, but also more challenging. This situation naturally poses a number of questions:

  • How do we keep our stories relevant to key stakeholders and develop the skills we need to be effective organisational influences?
  • Does working in a hybrid work environment make our jobs more difficult, as change often requires high levels of social bonding?
  • How do we maintain individual and collective motivation under each condition?

Developing a ‘Tomorrowmind’

Developing a ‘Tomorrowmind’ is key to navigating the current challenges of uncertainty, instability and overt attack. This term was introduced by Harvard-trained psychiatrist, Gabriella Rosen Kellerman, and Professor Marty Seligman. ‘Tomorrowmind’ is based on five key principles, which use the PRISM framework:

  • Prospection: This involves imagining and planning for disparate futures, so that we are in a greater state of empowerment and readiness for whatever is to come. Here, we need to move from a mixed mindset of possibilities to a growth mindset of options and choices. The options and choices mindset enables us to maintain our key role of strategic influences and change-makers. Having a fixed mindset on diversity and inclusion outcomes causes emotional stress and impacts our ability to engage with leaders and others to influence necessary change.

  • Resilience: How do we, as DE&I professionals, bounce back from such attacks, and more critically, grow stronger in the context of such challenges? How do we respond to constant change? How do we engage with leaders and stress those inclusive leadership principles as central to organisational thinking and behaving? Research by BetterUp has stressed five key important drivers of resilience. These include emotional regulation, cognitive agility, optimism, self-efficacy and self-compassion. Self-compassion in the work that we do is critical to maintaining our individual and collective energy, motivation and wellbeing, as well as the ability to maintain optimism by seeing over the current noise to new horizons.

  • Innovation and creativity: If we want to generate new and exciting ideas to address the current problems in DE&I, it is critical that we don’t fall into ‘groupthink’. This means developing new emotional and cognitive skills. Do we feel comfortable stilling down and connecting with individuals who may have different world views? How do we get into the mindset of our greatest challengers and critics? Are we able to acknowledge other views that we may not support, but, as a minimum, take them into account to develop those inclusive leadership skills needed to address current challenges? Do we have the skills to connect at all levels of the organisation and articulate the importance of diversity and inclusion in organisational success?

  • Social support: The authors of ‘Tomorrowmind’ stress the relationship between social connection and workplace innovation and collaboration. Social connection is also a key pillar of wellbeing, and the authors point to three barriers to developing strong connections within the modern workplace:

  1. Time - We don’t have enough of it. Most of us are time-poor due to organisational demands.
  2. Space - In an agile working environment, how do we build strong and meaningful connections within a Teams-based, on-screen work culture?
  3. Us/them – Our brains hold those who we register as “them” at bay. It’s easy for us as DE&I professionals to be “othered” by right-wing activities, for example. Conversely, it is easy for us to “other” those who may not be aligned to our values and goals. Here, we create a spiral of othering that is leading to a black hole of misinformation and separation.

Social support is therefore an important element in building trust across cultural locations with diverse colleagues and other key stakeholders.

  • Mattering: This, too, is a critical element. As resources are taken away from us, how do we continue to have a sense of meaning and purpose in our work? How do we sustain our energy and feel committed to driving inclusive work cultures in times of increasing economic and political uncertainty? How do we articulate what matters to us and align our messaging to organisational values in ways that land with senior stakeholders?

Developing a ‘Tomorrowmind’ mindset and building the skills needed to navigate current challenges will significantly increase the wellbeing of DE&I professionals. This, in turn, drives our sense of purpose and motivation to build those inclusive leadership skills in others. As a result, we can influence the desired business outcomes of creating workplace cultures based on the FAIRER Consulting principles: fairness, accessibility, inclusion, respect, equity and representation.

We are ready to help.

Contact us to arrange a complimentary one-to-one chat.


Dan Robertson

Dan Robertson is MD of FAIRER Consulting and Global Head of ED&I Advisory Services at Hays International. Over the last 15 years Dan has spent his time supporting global business leaders to transform their ideas into meaningful action, with a focus on inclusion as a strategic management issue, bias mitigation and inclusive leadership.