Taking the True Storytelling’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI 2.0) Journey

Please read this first: True Storytelling Institute’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion DEI 2.0 Module Overview

Journey to DEI 2.0

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True Storytelling’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI 2.0) Module

Please read: Oswick, Cliff. (2011). The social construction of diversity, equality, and inclusion. Equality, inequalities, and diversity: Contemporary challenges and strategies. British Journal of Management, 25(1), pp. 23- 39.  Click Here for article PDF. It presents a history of ways diversity, equity, and inclusion became successive discourses to treat the problem of workplace discrimination. For example, diversity was the successor to affirmative action (AA) which management believed had run its course and needed to be replaced with managing diversity. Then diversity was believed to run its course and was displaced by equality and equity discourse. Now all these discourses are being supplanted by ‘inclusion’ as the solution to problems of discrimination. In sum, diversity replaces affirmative action, and gets blended into equity, which becomes bundled into inclusion. It is the nesting fractal, one tucked neatly inside the other, like Russian dolls, without understanding their differences (See this study guide on dialogisms and nested-fractals, What are the Dialogisms of Conversational Storytelling in ODC 2.0 Module?

Here is the overall big picture view of the principles, processes, and tools:

7 Principles7
Antenarrative Processes
Tools to transform DEI 1.0 to DEI 2.0
1.True1. BENEATH Single Loop process: assessment – Where your organization is now in its DEI?1 Listening Tour
2.Already There2. BEFORE What is the deeper history of your DEI?2 Networking of stories and narratives already there with ICEND (Interactive, Communicative, Experiential, Networking Developing
3.Plot3. BETS ON FUTURE – How to align DEI in the strategic planning? Choosing among plots3 Plot the future together, while having shorter, fewer meetings
4.Timing4. BEING in Here and Now – Developing DEI in all spaces & times of ODC 2.0 by Closing the Double Loops of Learning4 Going back in time to recover Little Wow Moments
5.Helping5. BECOMING – of Double Loop of continuous process improvement of DEI systems5 Back to the Future, Connect to Opportune Moments enacting DEI futures that matter
6.Staging6. BETWEEN – How do you visually communicate the DEI 2.0 to Stakeholders? Preparing for Triple Loop6 Visual Staging Storyboarding  focus coherent communication to all the stakeholders
7.Reflect7. BEYOND – How your organization systems can continue an embodied process of reflection that attunes to ethics and aligns DEI 2.0 to ODC 2.0?7 The Field Tool to enact Triple Loop in embodied Reflection,  aligning DEI 2.0 with ecological business modeling

What is True? Diversity, equity (or equality), and inclusion (DEI 1.0) is not the same as DEI 2.0.  We therefore being with Principle 1 (What is True?) in a process of Going Beneath the concepts and labels of DEI to get to the pre-conceptions, and the differences between management saying a narrative in discourse (talk, stories, narratives, reports), and actual behavioral practices.

BLENDING TOGETHER DIFFERENT CONCEPTS OF D, E, and I can Cover Up a Lot of Problems that are not getting solved

D, E, and I (DEI) 1.0 is a fashionable organization and management discourse of anti-discrimination that do not actually ended the ongoing patterns of discrimination practices in many organizations. Differences in D,E, and I discourses get blended into a monologic DIE 1.0 that erases the important differences of ongoing practices, behaviors, and attitudes in the system of organizing, developing, and changing. It is hanging on to a pattern that needs changing. In the TINA Narrative (There Is No Alternative Narrative), differences of D, E, and I are blended into one monologic narrative we call DEI 1.0.


DEI 2.0, on the other hand, is defined here, as actually doing ODC 2.0 process and system work necessary to break free of the oppositional discursive patterns (us versus them) in the workplace, so the debate (& polarities) moves on to actual and true anti-discrimination behaviors and practices solutions respecting differences in equity, diversity, and inclusion discourses. For example, equal opportunities initiatives have been distinguished from diversity management strategies (Kandola, 1994; Kandola, Fullerton and Ahmed, 1995; Liff, 1997 & 1999; Liff & Wajcman, 1996). Concepts of inclusion and diversity have been delineated as quite different (Bendick, Egan and Lanier, 2010; Shore et al., 2011; Roberson, 2006).

Bendick, M., M.L. Egan, L. Lanier (2010). ‘The business case for diversity and the perverse practice of matching employees to customers’, Personnel Review, 39, pp. 468-486.

Kandola, R. and J. Fullerton (1994). Managing the Mosaic: Diversity in Action, London: IPD.

Kandola, R., J. Fullerton and Y. Ahmed (1995). ‘Managing diversity: Succeeding where equal opportunities has failed’, Equal Opportunities Review, 59, pp. 31-36.

Liff, S. (1997). ‘Two routes to managing diversity: individual differences or social group characteristics’, Employee Relations, 19, pp. 11-26.

Liff, S. (1999). ‘Diversity and equal opportunities: Room for a constructive compromise?’, Human Resource Management Journal, 9, pp. 65-75. 34.

Liff, S. and J. Wajcman (1996). ‘“Sameness” and “difference” revisited: which way forward for equal opportunity initiatives?’, Journal of Management Studies, 33, pp. 79-94.

Robinson, G. and K. Dechant (1997). ‘Building a business case for diversity’, Academy of Management Executive, 11, 3, pp. 45-56.

Shore, L.M., B. Chung, M. Dean, K. Ehrhart, D. Jung, A. Randel and G. Singh (2009). ‘Diversity in organizations: Where are we now and where are we going?’ Human Resource Management Review, 19, pp. 117-133.

Breakout Questions: Can DEI be seen as being interconnected and complimentary discourses, or are they more accurately, independent, and competing discourses?  If DEI are competing discourses, what are the underlying (root cause) differences between them?

Debrief: If D, E, and I constitute substantively different discourses (i.e., meaningful employment initiatives) or just superficially different discourses (i.e., rhetorically based management fashion Beginning-Middle, End [BME] linear, monological narratives) and consider the implications for future anti-discrimination initiatives.

Tool 1: 1 Listening Tours By doing listening tours to all parts of the organization, using Talking Stick or Nominal Group Techniques, it is possible to go beneath the rhetoric and get acquainted with what is happening in each room of the Tamara-Land (buildings with many rooms in which minority talent exists, and can be discovered).  

GOING INTO THE BEFORE PROCES TO HISTORY Principle 2: What is Already There?

Some History: The three antidiscrimination discourses of D, E, and I form a fractal pattern of recurring behaviors and attitudes which is a historical pattern of blending D, E, and I into one, in successive management fashions.  Diversity began in 1960s in the US, but it peaked in 1993, in practitioner journals, then was eclipsed by discussions of equity (& equality), and by the 2010, became fixated on inclusion (Oswick, 2011). 

“DEI [1.0] is a corporate litigation shield meant to protect those in power from the people over whom they wield it. The industry arose in the early ’60s to avoid inaction John F. Kennedy outlined at the beginning of the decade. In Executive Order 10925, Kennedy told government contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure” that employees be treated fairly irrespective of their race, religion, or nationality. Shortly after, the Civil Rights Act became law following a series of bloodstained boycotts and marches. Legal policies trapped DEI [1.0] in the fear of legal repercussions and made corporations eager to avoid splashy lawsuits” [Bracketed additions, ours, CLICK HERE TO READ ARTICLE].

Another word for crossroads is choice.

The transformation of Diversity to Equity, then to Inclusion was stimulated in management discussions in practitioner journals by the release of Workforce 2000 report (Johnston and Packer, 1987). It predicted massive demographic change requiring organizations to rethink their hiring strategies to survive. Rather than rethinking them, the rhetoric changed, and the practices remained the same: “In establishing distinctiveness, the rhetoric of diversity management in the practitioner-oriented literature began to ignore civil rights/social justice arguments” (Oswick, 2011).

In the US, all Equal Opportunity/AA initiatives were conflated to be ‘quotas or preferential selection of one gender, age, disability, ethnicity, racial, and nationality group over another. Organizations had little or not appetite for direct interventions in their systems. As Oswick (2011) puts it:

“EO/AA (equal opportunities/affirmative action) is portrayed as old, tired, failing and reliant on regulation imposed by the government, while MD (managing diversity) is new, fresh and full of potential, with an emphasis on responsible self-regulation of organizations guided by the free market.”

Sustaining discrimination by differentiating people is a way for Single Loop organizations to keep securing economic gains by externalizing the costs onto society. It also has Hidden Costs (decreased human potential, loss of competitive position to organizations making better use of human potential, to engage unfolding markets).

One major concern was the startling prediction that by 2000 only 15% of new entrants to the US workforce would be US-born, white males. Bureau of Labor Statistics later proved the Workforce 2000 prospective sensemaking (Principle 3, BETS ON THE FUTURE) to be wrong because they were based on a conceptual misunderstanding (back to the BENEATH, Principle 1, What is True?). According to Oswick’s (2011) study, “the professional management literature picked up that (largely erroneous) threat and made it into a full-blown crisis with rhetoric that justified and necessitated a major change in management style” (See Edelman, Fuller and Mara-Drita, 2001, p 1614.).

DEI 1.0, therefore management and Human Resource departments began enlisting external consultants to articulate an appropriate narrative response to meet the needs of the Workforce 2000 report’s, forecasted demographic and competitive challenge, while ignoring the Bureau of Labor Statistics counter-forecasts.

Johnston, W. and A. Packer (1987). Workforce 2000. Indianapolis, IN: Hudson Institute.

If the blending together of D,E, and I is a historical pattern of covering over discrimination with rhetoric (i.e., TINA narrative), is a deeper history diversity is blended into equality, and more recently, diversity and equality are treated as inclusion?

Breakout Question: What is the historical trend of D, E, and I being blended-together as one discourse covering over essential differences?

Debrief: The ongoing discrimination practices go unchecked and remained unchanged systemic process of Single Loop, for long periods of history. The history of DEI discourse includes a linear-narrative that Affirmative Action (AA) had definitely succeeded in securing this talent pool of women, ethnic, and racial minorities entering into organizations employment. An alternative narrative (plot) is that management and leadership in all kinds of organizations (public, private, NGO) continued to explicitly distance diversity from mandated Affirmative Action (AA) programs.

Tool 2: Networking of Stories Already There with ICEND (Interactive, Communicative, Experiential, Networking Developing. With ongoing True Storytelling Circle sessions, we have ground rules for effective active listening to other’s stories, their experiences in the organization.  See Study Guides available on TrueStorytelling.blog:

GOING INTO BETS ON THE FUTURE Principle 3: What are the Plots?

If this plot (AA  Diversity  Equity  Inclusion Plot Line) is true, then minority talent has not been actually organizing, developing, changing the underlying system preventing minority talent and potential to progress up the hierarchy. Can there be empowerment as inclusion: (Prasad, 2001; Shore et al, 2011).

Prasad, A. (2001). ‘Understanding workplace empowerment as inclusion. A historical investigation of the discourse of difference in the United States’, The Journal of Applied Behavioural Science, 37, pp.51-69.

Shore, L.M., A.E. Randel, B.G. Chung, M.A. Dean, K.H. Ehrhart and G. Singh, G. (2011). ‘Inclusion and diversity in work groups: a review and model for future research’, Journal of Management, 37, pp.1262-1289

In this linear sequence narrative: “They tend to argue that while diversity is concerned with recognizing the value of differences within the workforce and managing them for commercial advantage, inclusion is concerned with the processes that incorporate differences into business practices and thereby help to realize the value” (Oswick, 2011).

This shift away from diversity to inclusion, might, be the self-similar pattern, the recurring fractal of the earlier shift from EO/AA to diversity to inclusion, in order to hang on to the old hierarchical system. Evans (2006,p26) describes this happening in the UK:

“We talk much more about inclusion now, which is a dynamic… It is not about visible or non-visible traits of characteristics such as race or gender, sexuality or disability, which can all be stereotyped. It is about celebrating difference as an asset, since everyone is unique, and recognizing that everyone can make a contribution” (as cited in Oswick, 2011).

In short, what if its still the same Single Loop fractality by a different name? The consequence is talent pools of minorities are not being used to make organizations competitive with those organizations that develop Double and Triple Loop system competencies. We looked at the history of Single Looping from Affirmative Action (AA) to Diversity, let’s look at Looping from Diversity to Equity.  Diversity differences began to be problematized in practitioner journals, management texts, and organizational behavior texts. Managing diversity was downplayed and valuing differences took center stage for management solution (& organizational leader’s solutions, & their strategic-HR departments, & their hired consultants) turned to ‘Equity’ as the fashionable solution.

In short, non-change, non-development, and non-intervention approaches to consulting which did everything but deal with the underlying socio-economic root causes of discrimination, and barriers to entry and rising up the system hierarchy became the new managerial fashion narrative. In other words, understating the counter-narrative socioeconomic explanations. Bottom line: organizations and minority talent caught in Single Looping, so minority talent kept being under-utilized, and those organizations eroded their competitive position.

Tool 3: Plot the future together, while having shorter, fewer meetings This can be done deciding which issues to develop in meetings, and which can be a chat function, or email, with any necessary follow up. Shorter meetings spaced over time are more effective than long drawn-out meetings. Use of Nominal Group Technique to prioritize, and keep an agenda moving, with action steps is what we are talking about from some gathering. Other meetings need Talking Stick active listening sessions, without interruption, without questioning, and spaces of silence to get to the active listening, than discussion follow up makes more sense.

Principe 4: Timing, and the PROCESS OF BEING in Space, in Time, in Mattering (SpaceTimeMattering). This principle, and process involves actual Moving the System from DEI 1.0 Single Looping to Double Looping DEI 2.0. This is done by Embodied Restorying.

Breakout Question: Is the shift from pseudo-DEI 1.0 to an actual DEI 2.0 possible.

Debrief: Chavez and Weisinger (2008), argue it is possible to rethink diversity and inclusion as overlapping concepts.

Chavez, C.I. and J.Y. Weisinger (2008). ‘Beyond diversity training: a social infusion for cultural inclusion’, Human Resource Management, 47, pp. 331-350. (Click for PDF on Academia service).

The inclusion fashoin shifts emphasis from managing diversity to ‘managing for diversity’ (Oswick, 20110. That would make DIO 2.0 ‘a proactive, ongoing strategy that creates a culture within which people appreciate and can capitalize on individual differences – regardless of changing legal, demographic and economic conditions’ (Chavez and Weisinger, 2008,p337).

This graphic depicts the publication of the three topics in practitioner journals (Oswick, 2011).

Source: Cliff Oswick (2011)

At this point is is Double Loop and open system for responding to shifts in the environment. At the same time it is something to build upon. What we suggest is the open system has stalled, and its retrospective-prospective sensemaking has short-circuited. We use a process or embodied restorying to jump start it. What has to be assessed in the diagnosis of the open system: had inclusion become just one more backlash against equality, and diversity, and any sort of EO/AA?

Tool 4 Going back in time to recover Little Wow Moments of exception in the past history of the organization.

In this phase of DEI 2.0 We do 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, to get to 6, the Restory.

We work on system organizing, developing, and changing (ODC 2.0) to actually-unleash human potential. We do this through a process of embodied restorying, that begins with Double Loop, and continues to be implementing the Third Loop, so Triple Loop working effectively.

Principle 5: Helping stories along, is a PROCESS OF BECOMING in both the Before-Heart of a system and the Bets-Heart. The Double loop of retrospective-prospective sensemaking does a restorying process in which ‘Little Wow Moments’(LWMs) of exception to discrimination and Single Looping in the past get connected to (Kairos) Opportune Moments of prospective sensemaking in the future. We help clients gather LWMs from their past history, and then facilitate the construction of RESTORY (the new story that gets to be a future enactment).And this changes the underlying Chronos (temporalizing) narrative. Next, we get to Staging, the new story in a publicize phase.

Tool 5 Back to the Future, To Connect the gathered basket of Little Wow Moments to the unfolding Opportune Moments Enacting the choices of DEI 2.0 futures that matter. This is a continuation of the Restorying Process.  

The BETWEEN PROCESS, Going BETWEEN the Hearts of the System, with Principle 6: Staging by a visual storyboarding to communicate the ‘New Story’ in the Embodied Restorying Process, completing it with a Publicize to all stakeholders in a coherent, visual communication in all directions

Tool 6 Visual Staging Storyboarding  focus coherent communication

to all the stakeholders.

BEYOND PROCESS with Principle 7: Embodied Reflection. Result: We get a partnering of DEI 2.0 that unleashes human potential for True Performance of True Storytelling.

TOOL 7 The Field Tool to enact Triple Loop in embodied Reflection,  aligning DEI 2.0 with ecoogica business modeling

What does community mean to you> We are part of many communities BEYOND gener, race, age, ethnicity. We are part of families, academic interests, geographical places, spiritual and religious traitions, dietary practices, and of course Mother Nature. We are nature, not just in nature. Can we change the old business model of exploiting everything, into one that has ecological and human potential.

Suggested References for Ecological Shift in Business Modeling that has Human Potential

Boje, David M.; Jorgensen, Kenneth Mølbjerg. (2020). A ‘storytelling science’ approach making the eco-business modeling turn. Journal of Business Modeling, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 8-25. Click here for pre-press pdfPlease Click here for final print version PDF

Boje, David M.; Rana, Mohammad B. (2020). Defining a Sustainably-Driven Business Modeling Strategy with a ‘Storytelling Science’ Approach. Chapter to appear in Markovic, S., Sancha, C. and Lindgreen, A. (Eds.), Handbook of Sustainability-driven Business Strategies in Practice, Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. Click here for pre-press pdf.

Mogens Sparre and Boje, David M. (2020). Utilizing Participative Action Research With Storytelling Interventions to Create Sustainability in Danish Farming. To appear in Organizational Development Journal. Click here for pre-press pdf.

Jørgensen, Kenneth Mølbjerg; Boje, David M. Storytelling Sustainability in Problem-Based
Learning. Chapter to appear. Click here for pre-press pdf.

Rosile, Grace Ann; Boje, David M; Herder Richard A.; Sanchez, Mabel. (2021). The Coalition of Immokalee Workers Uses Ensemble Storytelling Processes to Overcome Enslavement in Corporate Supply Chains. Business and Society. Business & Society, Vol. 60(2) 376–414. Click here fore pre-press pdf.

FOLLOW UP, And we go back to Principle 1 Going Beneath into the processes, structures, and fractal patterns to keep the organizing, developing, and changing unfolding Triple Loop

Contact David Boje to update this blog post


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