Seena Hodges Wrote the Book on DEI for Business
When not coaching companies on diversity, equity, and inclusion, The Woke Coach founder Seena Hodges (editor at large of TCB‘s Forward newsletter) has been transcribing her best practices for a book titled From Ally to Accomplice: How to Lead as a Fierce Antiracist. The book is due out in the fall, but pre-orders go live today, in honor of Juneteenth. We spoke to Hodges about the current state of DEI work, and casting a wider net.
Q. What prompted you to write the book?
Hodges: My goodness! I was inspired to write the book because of the people that I was encountering through the business. The number one word that people used to describe their work with The Woke Coach is transformational. And as I was having the opportunity to see people have these transformations—and not only have them singularly, but also have them with colleagues and members of their family and other associates—I thought, “What might it look like to create a greater impact? What’s the best way to do that?” It occurred to me that writing about my experiences would allow me to continue to make transformation possible for people who weren’t able to have direct access to The Woke Coach every single day.
It’s also a wonderful opportunity to provide folks who want to start a journey a way into the work on their own time and on their own terms.
Q. Who is the primary audience for this book?
A. This book is for anyone who seeks to lead a more inclusive, antiracist life. It is written for leaders and for managers, but it’s also for anyone who is curious about injustice or exclusion, and desires to be a part of creating environments and circumstances that make things better for us all.
Q. What do you hope people will take away?
A. One of the things that’s true about anything that we aspire to do is that we’re better at it and we’re more effective when we opt in every day. In the work of DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and antiracism), there’s a level of commitment that’s required. I want readers to develop a practice, commit to it, and move to action.
Q. Since the days after George Floyd’s murder, when you were inundated with calls, how as the work of DEI changed?
A. I will acknowledge that I’ve seen a lot of progress. I’ve seen individuals and groups within organizations dig deeper, develop a greater sense of discernment and awareness, learn more, create policies, procedures, and practices that really enforce inclusion and antiracist practices.
However, I’ve also witnessed an extreme amount of fatigue. To be honest, it’s to be expected because when you’re doing something new you’re continuously learning more and as you learn more, you’re required to move to action around the things that you are learning. It can feel like a constant shift. That can feel overwhelming. It is very easy to say, “You know what? I don’t want do this anymore.” But the fact is we must continue the work, and the reporting and data that we have access to tells us that the challenges are greater than we previously imagined. So the sense of urgency has dissipated, but the necessity for the work is still there. That has not changed.
Q. What is something you’d tell every business and organization in our community to think about, and talk about today?
A. Stay in the work. Even when it feels the most challenging. And especially when it feels rewarding—so rewarding that you think you’re done. Remember that there’s always work to be done because this is a lifelong journey.