Jes Osrow

COO & Co-Founder at The Rise Journey
August 23, 2022
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Naya - Jes, thanks for joining us! I'll kick us off with the first question – What is a good starting place when trying to build communities with DEI&B as the foundation?

The first thing that comes to mind is intentionality of the group, its mission/goal, and location.  Then the rules/guidelines:
• Is this group for a specific cause (social justice, community, support, etc.)
• Similar to the intentionality, but with more focus is the mission. is the mission to accomplish something? to make people feel a certain way? to broker change? conversation? etc.
• Is this a global thing? on Slack? in person or only remote?
• What are the rules of engagement? What about ‘bad’ behavior? Are there norms or expectations?

And making sure this information is clear, understandable, transparent. and shared in a way that is accessible.  a lot of this is logistics, but if everyone isn’t on the same page then even if there are best intentions and lofty goals, things will get out of control.  Once there is a level of intentionality build in at all parts, real magic can happen! being clear and building in transparency wherever possible is vital for DEI.

Naya - Love this, thank you! To follow up, do you have any recommended best practices to improve inclusivity and accessibility of communities and their resources that can be implemented early on?

Having all the resources in one central place (Notion, Google doc, website, etc.) so that all can log in and see it.  Also making sure that things aren’t wild colors, fonts, etc.  Make sure folks with disabilities can read/learn/access with software that supports accommodation. Making sure if there is a meeting, a schedule is posted so that people know where and how.  If people miss meetings have one doc with notes/minutes so people can follow up.  If there are projects, using a project management tool so there is accountability built in, etc.

Katrine - Hi Jes, thank you for being here and answering our questions! A question I have for you is what are some of the most common mistakes you see community teams making involving DEI&B efforts? And what are some common DEI&B OKRs teams can set for themselves?

Trying to tackle something that is too big! And then not dividing out the steps, milestones and CLEAR deliverables. You can’t say ‘we want to diversify our board’ and stop there and start action.  What steps need to be taken? who are the stakeholderS? what are their roles (think of the RACI model or similar).

And the big one is budget. If you’re gonna tackle DEI issues there HAS TO BE BUDGET! even if it starts small, get that line item in and grow it every year.  Without metrics and deliverables, folks won't want to give budget (nor increase it) so being super clear at the very beginning will help later stage success.

Izzy - Hey Jes! Thank you for being with us today :) I wanted to know what prompted you to start The Rise Journey? Also, I was curious to know what "sustainable organizational culture" meant and how folks are able to see this in action?

So I met my cofounder at a mini-masters at NYU managing DEI in workplace.  My cofounder (also Jessica hah) and I really aligned around values when it comes to closing the gap between DEI and org development.  We are two heterosexual, cisgender white women and knew it was important to surround ourselves and learn from folks from different backgrounds, education experiences, socioeconomic, etc (all elements of DEIBA) before starting with any client. We wanted to have tough and thoughtful convos/action internally before asking anyone externally to change their thoughts/process/business.  One of our values is ‘No Ego’ - Jessica and I are good at this work, but if we’re not the right person to lead/talk/work/be/do/whatever when it comes to client work, we are fine with that! We have fantastic people that support us. That teach us. That laugh with us. And collaborate - that for us is the foundation of all of our work and how we work with clients.

And sustainable organizational culture is about not having to work with Rise (or any other consultant) forever. It's about an org learning, growing, adapting as we partner so we ebb off the project(s) over time. We don’t want to go in and be the only ones who can do the work (because that isn’t true to the nth degree), but about helping others within an org learn, grow, and be able to build upon a foundation that we build together.

If we’re working with a client on the same project for more than a year, we have failed that org. We haven’t made something sustainable–something that will last and grow with them and their business. And I would say if ANY consultant is working on the same thing for too long, not just DEI work, it's the same thing. Orgs need to either a) learn how do this work better for the long-term health of their org or b) hire someone internally to do it rather than a consultant for long-long term!