The Kaleidoscope Group – Justice and Unity Must Coexist in Our Future

by Savoy Staff

By Doug Harris, Chief Executive Officer, The Kaleidoscope Group

There is a lot of energy around the concept of justice especially as it relates to black people. We all know that the concept of justice isn’t new but rather, there is a renewed energy around righting the wrongs of discrimination and racism. Many of us would like to believe that this is a movement versus a moment and maybe it is. Having dedicated my life to the field we call diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), there are several things we need to do if we really want to achieve justice and I want to outline three of them here.  Keep in mind, these things are not mutually exclusive or exhaustive but they are essential: We must identify what we want the outcome to be, calibrate our emotions to the outcome and understand our motivations in relation to that outcome.

Identify The Outcome

The killing of George Floyd catapulted people into action. Many of us didn’t plan what we were going to do, but we just knew we had to do something. We did this because it felt better than sitting on the sideline and we wanted to have an impact.  But some of us didn’t develop plans. We didn’t define the term justice and if we did, we didn’t map out milestones in the pursuit of justice. I’m not glossing over the fact that some people planned, but honestly, many of us didn’t plan. There is the overall plan and the individual plan and you should have both. The spontaneous protests in the streets was a “reaction” and is not a “response.” We did something but did that reaction align with the overall plan as well as your individual one?

In all situations, we must determine if the two components of the plan will get us closer to our outcome, which is justice. So, we are forced to answer these questions individually and collectively: What does justice look like? How does it feel? How will life be different? And Are there different levels of justice that we are willing to accept? Once we define the outcomes, it can help determine our roles. Do we protest in the streets or do we help people register to vote? We can do one or both but it must align with our plan over just doing something.

Calibrate Your Emotions

The killing of George Floyd also sparked a lot of emotions. And as humans, that is to be expected. To achieve the desired outcome, the key is to calibrate those emotions. There are four major emotions that drive us and each must be harnessed if we are to achieve the desired outcome.  These emotions are anger, fear, hate, and love.

  • Anger may be the spark to get you going but it cannot sustain a focus on the goal.  Anger at some point becomes the goal versus a catalyst for achieving the outcome.  It builds on itself and becomes self-destructive.
  • Fear can also be the spark to get you going but it is a constant barrier to sustainable outcomes.  If we have a fear that resources are scarce we fight over the resources and not for justice, which would be resources for everyone.
  • Hate might be the spark that ignites your energy but because it requires an enemy, you will spend more time focusing on the enemy than the outcome.
  • Love, now that’s a complicated one.  Many believe that love is weak, love is passive and love doesn’t hold people accountable.  The Love Principle says Love is strong, Love is active and Love is accountability.  It is the only major emotion that will not obstruct the goal and get in the way of the outcome.  This is because love takes the focus off specific people making it easier to focus on the goal.

Understand Our motivations

When I got into this work of DEI, I wanted to help the historically underserved. I wanted to give them a voice. At some point, I realized that just being their voice wasn’t enough.  Initially, my desire was to get others to see these people differently when the real goal was for all of us to see each other.  I recognized that another way people came to this work was with the desire to make their organizations better. They were not as concerned with leveling the playing field as they were with achieving better business outcomes.  I also witnessed people coming to this work to change the world. They believe that by changing the world, they will improve companies as well as move toward justice.  Two important points: 1. Your presence in this work is essential and whether you want to help specific groups, improve organizations or change the world, each is valid.  2. There is a great opportunity to work with people along the spectrum because you are not at odds.  You all seek justice but have different motivations. Working together will produce better outcomes and support personal growth. I see this as a unity mindset – one where all perspectives are needed to achieve the best outcome.

I’ve been in this work for over 30 years and I learn something 
every day. People constantly ask me to speak about DEI and I gladly do it because it is my passion.  However, I resist the monologue mentality where I talk and you listen. I look for ways to create a dialogue so when I’m working toward justice, it looks like the people working to achieve it. I welcome your feedback.

Doug Harris CEO of The Kaleidoscope Group and a thought leader on DEI and business impact.



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