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Restorative Justice Can Go Beyond Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion Councils are indeed the next step toward achieving social justice in US society, but it is not the final step. According to Diversity Best Practices (DBP), “The primary role of the Council is to connect D&I activities to a broader business-driven, results-oriented strategy.” While it is important to have diverse perspectives to inform business strategy, it’s also important to think about how folks on the council will relate to each other as they share their perspectives and show up with differing identities. Moreover, the social dynamics within the council will also inform cultural norms of the whole organization. What’s needed now is to ensure that the folks who represent D&I Councils have the skills to relate to one another in a way that acknowledges who they are, values their perspectives, and honors their humanity.

Restorative Justice practices go beyond D&I by engaging folks in processes that get at the core of relational issues within workplaces: knowing, understanding, and respecting each other. These processes are crucial to building, sustaining, and repairing relationships when harm occurs within the organization. As millennials continue to enter the workforce, these characteristics of organizational culture will be integral to recruitment and retention. In a 2019 study done by Ashley Rhae Grishby at Walden University, she states,

When compared to other generations, millennials value the importance of diversity and inclusion and want to work for organizations that value and implement these practices. However, millennials define diversity and inclusion constructs and expectations of empowerment and authenticity in the workplace differently than their generational counterparts (Bilazarian & Chait, 2016). Based on these differences, organizations are facing challenges as their current practices may be more traditional and less aligned to millennial expectations. For example, millennials change jobs approximately every two years because many refuse to work in a job that does not allow them to be themselves. They want to feel free to express themselves in the workplace while embracing their differences and learning from each other (HR Council, 2018; McCoy, 2015). For organizations that refuse to embrace the changes of traditional norms and provide environments that are more inclusive, they will have a disadvantage in recruiting and retaining millennial talent (Grishby, 2019).

As the US workforce continues to diversify, there will be a need for organizations to examine and shift cultural practices, including but not limited to embodiments of White Supremacy Culture. Restorative Justice, a framework that seeks to embed processes of relationship building and repairing within institutions, offers development of key skills to cultivate affective – not effective – communicators, emergent relationships, and environments where diverse leaders want to stay.

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