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The DEI Slowdown and You

by Aleasa Word, FAACT’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

April 2023

There is a saying many of us have heard so often that it has become cliché. The term “keep it pushing” is used when people want to get past something (or someone) that may drag them down or if they feel like their motivation is slowing.

Working in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) space, I have heard quite a bit of buzz about “diversity work” slowing down – as if the idea of a diverse world is something you can put on a shelf. According to a recent story in the Washington Times, available DEI jobs dropped 19 percent in 2022. What does this mean for us in the food allergy community? It means we CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP, fighting for inclusion!

The reason we can’t stop working toward inclusivity in the healthcare industry, as well as our homes and communities, is that the millions of us living with food allergies represent a dimension of diversity. We are still trying to get others to not only know we exist but also see the intersectionality between white, BIPOC, disabled, aged, and socially/economically challenged people in our community. Healthcare costs are a concern for many people when it comes to accessing epinephrine. Others have comorbid health conditions that further add to the balance sheet in our homes. When you add in inequities related to race, gender, age, and sexual orientation, members of our community represent all of these dimensions.

The point is we cannot afford to let up the gas on the DEI bus because when we do, everyone suffers. One group not represented gives way to “othering” for additional groups in the diversity pie of life. What can you do?

  1. If you are in a hiring role in your company, continue to create equitable spaces at your company.
  2. If you run a support group, continue to broaden your support in your community so that it is as diverse as the landscape of America.
  3. In your families, continue to teach your children and grandchildren to use their voices safely to stand up for themselves and others.
  4. Inventory your own inclusion behaviors and make changes where necessary.
  5. Give yourself grace. When you mess up (and you will), don’t be afraid to pick the torch back up and continue forward.
  6. Use the resources of our DEI Resource Center at FAACT.
  7. Join diverse groups and take part in activities that are not native to your community so that you can get to know some of the ways in which others exist in the world. 
  8. Ignore the naysayers. We deserve to be heard and so do others.

We are stronger together, but we must do the work, and it starts as well as continues with people like you and me. For more support on this topic, feel free to reach out to your support groups and your FAACT family who are eager to help create a better world for us all.