Exploring Mass Shootings Through the Lens of DEI With Strategist Stacey Gordon
Reported by: Berta Daniels/
Many of us are still reeling in the wake of yet another mass shooting in America. Reflecting on the deeper implications of this needless tragedy, it begs the question – does DEI work even matter when we can't agree on the basic right to stay alive?
Like so many things in life, there is no one right answer, but I believe DEI can get us closer to a world where these senseless acts of violence are no longer commonplace. Rather than a standalone solution, DEI serves as an integral piece of a much larger puzzle.
At its core, DEI centers on recognizing, amplifying, and equalizing the voices of historically marginalized groups in order to create a more just and equitable society. In a country that has long been divided by racial, ethnic, and gender-based violence, this is no small feat. It is also no small feat to imagine a future in which everyone is treated with respect and dignity.
DEI can help us to see the humanity in all people, even those who have caused great harm. It can help us to understand the root causes of violence and address them before they escalate. Most importantly, it can lead us in dismantling the very systemic issues that embolden people to commit these kinds of atrocities in the first place.
Implementing DEI to Create Safe Spaces
In the face of such tragedy, it's easy to feel hopeless and helpless. But there's always room for hope, especially when we commit to taking concrete action.
One way to do this is by implementing DEI policies and initiatives in our schools and workplaces. This includes but is not limited to things like anti-discrimination training, unconscious bias training, and increasing representation of marginalized groups in leadership positions.
Creating safe spaces where everyone can feel seen, heard, and valued is a crucial step in preventing future mass shootings. It's also an important part of the healing process for those who have been impacted by gun violence.
It's in these safe, diverse spaces that we can speak out about our experiences with violence and spark the conversations that shape the future of gun policy in America.
When we commit to DEI, we're not only working to create a more just and equitable world, but we're also making a statement that every life is valuable and worth protecting.
When we commit to DEI, we send a message that everyone is welcome here. We send a message that we see you, we hear you, and you matter.
The Role of DEI in Preventing Mass Shootings
Gun policies aside, one of the most pressing discussions concerning public shootings is the 'why'.
What is it that drives a person to commit such a heinous act? What part of their story compels such anger and hatred? And the most important question, what could have been done to prevent this from happening?
Some are quick to point the finger at mental illness without taking a step back to understand the larger picture. The Violence Project, a comprehensive mass shooter database funded by the Department of Justice, acknowledges that mental illness plays a role but is not typically the catalyst of mass shootings. Further, we play a dangerous game when we treat mental illness as a warning sign for violence.
Most often, the answer lies in their previous experiences. Motivations range from fame-seeking and hate, to abuse and bullying, but there seems to be one thread connecting a great number of these offenders - isolation.
A sense of detachment and feeling like an outsider are some of the most commonly reported experiences by those who have carried out mass shootings. This is where DEI can play an active role in prevention.
DEI can help to provide a sense of community and belonging for those who feel isolated. It can create opportunities for connection, understanding, and healing. In doing so, we can, little by little, build a world where everyone feels like they belong.
So, if the question is, is it worth it to focus on DEI initiatives when there always seems to be one more massive act of violence every time we tune into the news?
The answer is a resounding yes.
When it's all said and done, gun violence is a large, multi-faceted issue and any lasting solution will require a holistic, intersectional approach. DEI is not a Band-Aid for the big, ugly problems in our society. But it is a crucial step in moving forward to create lasting, meaningful change. It's a way to ensure that everyone - no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or religion - feels like they belong. And that, ultimately, is what we need if we're going to create a world where gun violence is no longer seen as a viable solution.
About Stacey Gordon
Leading at the intersection of diversity, inclusion, and workplace culture, in her role as Executive Advisor and Diversity Strategist of Rework Work, Stacey Gordon coaches and counsels executive leaders on DEI strategies for the business. She has worked with people managers and executive leaders from companies such as American Express, ADP, Kia Motors, Hewlett Packard, Walmart, GE and many others to deliver education, coaching and consulting sessions that support their D&I efforts.
As a globally recognized keynote speaker, leadership consultant and DEI strategist, Stacey has provided subject matter expertise to Harvard Business Review, SHRM, Fast Company, Skillsoft, Forbes, NPR Radio, BBC Radio, and the Association for Talent Development.
Stacey’s book, UNBIAS: Addressing Unconscious Bias at Work debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Release list, her unconscious bias course on the LinkedIn learning platform was the #1 most watched course of 2021 and has been translated into several languages. Her audience includes more than 2 million unique learners and Stacey has been recognized as a passionate supporter of DEI by Forbes, Pepperdine University and LinkedIn. She earned her MBA from Pepperdine University Business School and her SHRM-SCP certification, as well as the SHRM Inclusive Workplace Culture Credential. www.reworkwork.com