I remember dressing up for Halloween. It was always a big deal that required consideration and preparation. I would dress as a pirate,1950’s sock hop dancer, a beatnik (look it up), witch, or ghost. I always wanted to be something other than “who I was.” Instead of a little girl with long braids, this was my time of the year to wear makeup, a fake beard, jewelry…to be grown up and to dream.

I would go door-to-door to acquire my bounty, like a squirrel gathering acorns for the winter. At every door, I was acknowledged for my creativity and ability to be something or someone other than who I was. The neighbor would see me, act shocked and would say, “Oh my, you are such a scary pirate!” or “What brew are you concocting evil witch?” At the end of Halloween, I would put away my costume and resume my Glenna identity for the next 364 days of the year.

Every year the neighbors accepted my new disguise and welcomed me with interest…and Halloween bounty! They never said, “Weren’t you a pirate last year? We preferred you as a pirate!” They never shamed me for showing up and choosing to be different. They welcomed my diversity, treated me exactly as they had the year before, and included me in their “Halloween” event.

In real life, we may choose to conceal our true self, but our outside cannot be disguised…it exists, and it is real.

What have you had to overcome or mask to be your best self, to be you?

As Winston Churchill stated, Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common… Celebrate it every day.

According to United Way, “From homelessness and career growth to economic disparity and education, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) shape every aspect of our lives and society. Diversity is accepting people from all walks of life. Equity is providing opportunities to all. Inclusion creates a welcoming atmosphere where all people, regardless of race, gender, and sexuality, can feel welcomed and are able to actively participate in society without any threats of harm or intimidation. By celebrating and accepting people’s differences, we create a more empathetic world.”

Diversity includes race, gender, age, sex, disability, beliefs, and ultimately every aspect of who we are. It is what makes us unique. You and I are different! We all have somethings that makes us unique, and somethings that we celebrate, accept, or conquer. We may not accept each other’s beliefs or ideas, but we can listen, learn, appreciate, and respect each other for our choices and humanity.

In business, diversity, equity, and inclusion must be a 24/7, every day of the year focus versus one day of Halloween. It is not a onetime event, a sign on the wall, or a statement from leadership. DEI must be woven into the fabric of “who and what you are” as a company.

Review your company mission, vision, values, service philosophy, people practices, and procedures and ask yourself if these are inclusive and respectful. Do your employees have a voice? Do you listen to them? Are you open to ideas and alternative points of view? New ideas and creative problem solving are born from the insights and experiences of people with different perspectives.

If the answer to these questions is yes, Congratulations! Continue your great work and move forward!

If the answer to these questions is no, you have an opportunity to impact diversity, equity, and inclusion in the future. It is time to prepare for your 2023 initiatives. You can update, modify, and communicate the DEI beliefs, statements, policies, practices, and goals for your company to gain buy-in and move forward.

When you move forward with these initiatives, be open, gracious, and accepting.

Like my neighbors, acknowledge the diversity (a pirate, a witch…or just me), and invite the change.