Professor offers solutions to navigating diversity, equity and inclusion at work

September 23, 2022

The new book serves as a guide to a comprehensive and evolving problem

As society progresses, hopefully, the workplace also progresses.

But the issue of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at work can be difficult for employees to address. Some may be looking for guidance on how to be part of the solution to these problems, while others believe they don’t exist. And a professor at ASU’s WP Carey School of Business, who recently co-wrote a book on the subject, says leaders and professionals are often left to figure it out for themselves.

Eldar Maksymov, associate professor of accounting at Arizona State University, and Ken Bouyer, director of inclusive recruitment at EY Americas, are the co-authors of “Navigating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Professional Settings: Cases and Professionals’ Perspectives for Self- Group development and study. “

They say their new job may sound like a textbook written for the professional world, but is suitable for self study or group discussion. In fact, the two will host a discussion about the book and a signing at 11:30 am on October 4 in the Avnet Lounge at McCord Hall on the Tempe ASU campus.

Maksymov spoke to ASU News about his new book with Bouyer, their findings and how to approach a career in harmony with DEI.

Editor’s Note: Answers have been edited for greater length and clarity.

Book cover

Question: What is the premise of your new book?

Reply: It is a book that contains short case studies on particularly painful and common situations of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) that Ken and I have observed in the professional world. Each of the 15 short cases is followed by a considerable amount of insightful perspectives from professionals who “have been there”.

For example, when a case is about how black professionals can struggle to be promoted to leadership roles, we provide anonymous information from black professionals who have managed to be promoted to leadership roles and those who are still struggling.

When a case is about how female professionals can strive for the same legitimacy that male leaders typically receive, we include insights from successful female leaders commenting on these issues and how they are handling them.

Researching this book has opened my eyes to many of the DEI problems that some groups of practitioners experience, and in some cases I simply had no idea. I know this book will do the same for many professionals, students, and leaders who will read it.

Q: Why did you want to write this book?

A: Since my immigration to the United States from Ukraine in 1997, I noticed that there was a lot of racial tension and addiction to stereotypes. Europe has many other problems … but based on my European background, there was much less racial and gender tension than the United States

As we note in the description of our book, opinions in society about DEI range from “The problems of DEI do not exist” to “everything you do should be focused solely on the DEI”. Of course, the truth generally tends to be somewhere in between, but I simply haven’t been able to find balanced guides on DEI’s problems. I’ve read multiple books that tend to fall at one end of the spectrum or the other.

And as all these unproductive discussions continue, professionals of all backgrounds are faced with these extreme problems and perspectives on their own.

Q: What do you think is the big revelation or surprise of this book?

A: While writing and interviewing for this book, I came across a number of insights that were completely new to me and changed my perspective.

For example, I had no idea that female professionals tend to rate themselves lower and consider themselves less qualified than a similarly performing male professional would. Furthermore, it is not because females are less confident, but it is because of social norms and expectations placed on females.

One of the most useful information I think leaders can use came from a professional who explained how leaders can determine when they should draw the line in accepting the different opinions, behaviors, looks and other characteristics of their employees that these professionals embrace. . … If (a) the practitioner’s behavior becomes a distraction to achieving the team’s professional goals, it is (the leader’s) responsibility to help this practitioner understand where he might go too far and the practitioner should be open to that. training. It’s a difficult balance, of course, but for me it’s a roadmap that professionals and leaders from all backgrounds can use to help each other navigate careers in harmony with DEI principles for the benefit of all.

Q: Who do you see as the audience for this book?

A: Frankly, although the focus of the book is specifically on professionals, the book is for anyone dealing with people in pursuit of their goals. In particular, I would highlight leaders, professionals and students. Ken and I define professionals in a broad sense in this sense: professionals are people who work together towards common goals using their experience. Three categories of leaders who might find this book particularly useful are human resources directors, DEI executives at organizations, and business school principals. Ken and I believe that every business student should receive this book as part of the welcome package for a business school. Nowadays, you can’t just plan to have a successful career and not understand these principles.

I would like to note that my royalties for any ASU sale of this book will go straight back to the ASU for scholarships. I think this book will bring tremendous benefits to our students – I kept them in mind while Ken and I were writing this book.

Q: What is your message to both organizations and professionals reading this book?

A: Readers will get great insights from this book if they just read it. So the book is perfectly suited for self study. However, the book can also be used in group discussions such as vocational training courses or university lectures.

I would add that for organizations planning to use this book for group discussions such as training courses and classes, please provide instructors with the support they need, assure them that it is okay not to know the answers, and encourage them to focus first. on the drive message. The principles of DEI in professional environments are fundamental to help everyone have a fair chance to have the right opportunities and to be successful. DEI does not mean making professionals feel bad or guilty or shaming them for not knowing someone’s culture.

DEI means helping professionals to understand each other better. It’s about giving each of your colleagues the benefit of the doubt by giving each of them a fair chance. It is about having a relationship of trust with each colleague. And frankly, it’s like any important relationship: you just have to accept the fact that you will never be perfect, but you have to keep learning and working on it, and it will keep getting better.

Q: What is the outcome or hope you have as a result of this work?

A: My hope for this book has two parts: for the book itself and for the people who read it. As for the book itself, I believe Ken and I have achieved our goal. We have created a book that offers professionals, executives and students useful insights on how to navigate GODs in professional environments based on the wisdom of Ken and the numerous professionals we interviewed for this book.

As for the people reading this book, Ken and I have a lot of hope. First, we hope that people who are well intentioned, but have not been confident until now in their abilities to navigate a career in harmony with the principles of DEI, will now feel more confident in their abilities.

We hope that people like me, who have not grown up around a lot of diversity, understand better where professionals from different backgrounds come from, how they feel (and) how they want to be recognized for their experience like everyone else, rather than stand out. for some characteristics related to their background and so on.

And third … I hope that the DEI principles eventually become just a standard professional norm. Just as professionals used to smoke in their offices, but today it is the norm that they don’t, I hope professionals will equally embrace DEI principles in interacting with each other and even thinking about each other.

Top photos courtesy of Pexel

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