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My Approach to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Updated: Oct 25, 2021

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are not destinations an organization arrives to, instead, they are the road an organization travels to places of balance, impactful employee relations and healing for humanity. While traveling this path we must consider the most durable and necessary vehicles for the journey: (1) Cultural Competency and (2) Social Emotional Learning. These two vehicles are fueled by the combination of integrity, consistency and human-will. Lakendra-Laverne Consulting is a human-centered and holistic business consulting organization. It is led by myself, Lakendra-Laverne Smith, M.Ed. I have the essential tools and framework to help organizations be effective entities in the D.E.I. movement. In order to travel this path in truth, you must first consider the basic skills necessary to take the journey.

Can you drive a stick shift? The vehicles of cultural competency and social emotional learning are not automatic. These entities force us to place humanity at the center of this work, and not the business agenda. Gaining knowledge and know-how in operating the vehicles of cultural competency and social emotional learning is the first step to advancing on the road of D.E.I. While learning to drive these vehicles you must also learn the second step which is how to maintain fuel for the ride. These “cars” run off a hybrid fuel composed of integrity, consistency and human-will. The absence of one of these ingredients is like using diesel gas inside a vehicle requiring unleaded.

You can not duplicate the road to D.E.I. to meet your own organizational agendas. Doing so will keep you in a roundabout way of “playing diversity”. It is the emotional nature of humanity that creates the chaos that is institutionalized racism and inequity. Humans are emotional beings who have all had experiences that shape how we move with ourselves and others. The experiences of our ancestors have had a domino-effect into our present day realities. We have to be willing to accept that history directly impacts culture, culture feeds bias, and bias creates oppression.

I take each of my audiences through a cyclical 5-step framework:

Step 1: Break The Shell During this process we move from “I don’t know what I don’t know” and into “I realize I need to gain knowledge in this area.”

Step 2: The Learning Period This step is all about immersive experiences, comprehensive training and human-centered workshops dedicated to creating awareness about everyone’s contribution to the current situation. At this stage we move from “This is all your fault!” and into “We all play a role.”

Step 3: Mindful Implementation At this point you have gained the necessary knowledge and now it is time to implement solutions that align with operating those vehicles and keeping them fueled on the road of D.E.I.

Step 4: Cruise Control At this point the organization is moving with ease on the road of D.E.I. This road is not with bumps and turns, but the vehicles of cultural competency and social emotional learning make the turbulent paths easier to navigate.

Step 5: Class is in Session. I am confident that at this point of the journey, those who began as students will now be able to teach the lessons of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

My approach to D.E.I. is much like watching a wise and well dressed elder drive a Cadillac with a sunroof top; I am smooth, detailed oriented and I make it look cool to drive the D.E.I. Deville. And 10 times out of 10, you'll see me wearing a wide brim hat, because this work isn't hard, but I make it look necessary. Hop in, and let's take a ride.

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