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3 Things I learned baking cakes in relation to equity, diversity and inclusion

It's been about three years now that I have been undertaking a baking and book challenge. It all began in 2020 when I embarked on creating 30 types of cookies, coupled with 30 equity, diversity, and inclusion tips over the span of 30 days. In 2023, I decided to shift my focus to crafting 12 cakes and delving into 12 books. The book-reading part was relatively easy, and I managed to read 29 books. However, creating the cakes demanded some skill, and there are three lessons I learned throughout the year of baking cakes that I can relate to my work in equity, diversity, and inclusion.

  1. Preparation is Key: Just as in baking cakes, preparation is crucial when implementing any equity, diversity, and inclusion initiative. You can't bake a cake without all the necessary ingredients. I recall a time when I ran out of baking powder, prompting a frantic text to my neighbor for assistance. Similarly, as an EDI practitioner, take the time to understand your stakeholders. Listen and ask questions of leaders and employees. Understanding the issues related to EDI is vital before commencing. Surveys and focus groups are valuable tools to gauge the organization's sentiments on inclusion.

  2. Know Your Oven and Know Your Company: Every recipe provides an estimated baking time, but you need to watch it and understand your oven. Similarly, in the corporate realm, understanding how your company operates is essential. Is the organization more top-down or flat? Do you need multiple meetings with leaders to clarify details? Consider cultural differences—will your program work universally, or do you need to tailor it for different locations? These details are crucial.

  3. It's Not About Looks or Awards: Just as not every cake turns out aesthetically pleasing, receiving EDI awards doesn't necessarily reflect the true state of a company's commitment. Some cakes may crack or require adjustments, but the taste matters most. Likewise, I've witnessed companies receive EDI awards, only to discover internally that the reality for employees is quite different. Beware of companies boasting about numerous inclusion awards, as some of these might be "pay-to-play," defeating the purpose of genuine recognition. Be cautious and focus on meaningful progress rather than accolades.

In 2023 I got better at making cakes however I do not think I will do a cake challenge again.  So in 2024 I am focusing on 24 bars and 24 books. Follow me on Instagram at @steph_redivo


*EDI = equity, diversity and inclusion. You may use other terms such as EDIB for Belonging or IDEA for Accessibility.  Feel free to use whichever term you want.


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