Dr. Sandra Upton: Making DEI Strategies Last

Engage with the West Michigan Woman Community!

Dr. Sandra Upton shares eight steps to a long-lasting DEI strategy in new book.

A renowned DEI expert, Dr. Sandra Upton, Founder and CEO, Upton Consulting Group, has spent the last 25 years researching, training, speaking and implementing DEI methodologies with Fortune 500 companies, universities and nonprofits. Now, Dr. Upton has put her work into a new book, "Make It Last: A Roadmap and Practical Strategies for How to Do DEI."

"Make It Last" follows an evidence-based, proven change management strategy, and is geared toward chief diversity officers, members of DEI councils, leaders of employee resource groups, human resource professionals, middle managers, and department heads who need support to create and implement DEI strategies to make and sustain change.

To learn more about the book‚—which is available now—and what readers can glean from its pages, we caught up with Dr. Upton.

WMW: Your work has long been rooted in DEI consulting and coaching. What inspired you to take this work and put it into book form?

Dr. Upton: I've always understood the value and benefit of a diverse workforce, especially when organizations are committed to developing their cultural intelligence and creating inclusive work environments. As a Black woman, I understand firsthand the challenges and disadvantages that underrepresented groups experience in workplaces that aren't committed to equity and inclusion.

WMW: Talk about the process of putting your book together. When did you start, how long did the process take and what did you enjoy most about the journey?

Dr. Upton: The process took about two years. It was an arduous and emotional process. Some days, you are elated about what you are preparing to put out into the world. Other days, you feel overwhelmed by the process and, because change is unstoppable and inevitable, you worry about your work becoming outdated before it's published. But deep down you have a strong conviction that what you say matters; it transcends time, it is backed by evidence-based research and it will have significant impact in organizations. Those lucid moments make the process incredibly exciting and rewarding.

WMW: What advice would you give to individuals or organizations that are just starting their journey toward creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace?

Dr. Upton: I would tell them to start. Don't delay. Don't let fear of unwarranted and unsubstantiated backlash paralyze or cause you to backpedal. Develop a strategy that is data and outcome driven by following the eight steps described in my book and you will create change that lasts.

WMW: In your experience, what are some common challenges organizations face when trying to implement DEI initiatives, and how does your book address these challenges?

Dr. Upton: I have seen a number of challenges but two of the most common and most detrimental are no. 1, lack of a data and outcome driven strategy, and no. 2, limited understanding and confidence around "how" to implement or operationalize the strategy. Addressing these two challenges are the crux of my book.

WMW: How does your book recommend that organizations ensure that DEI efforts are not just temporary fixes but become ingrained in an organization's culture for the long term?

Dr. Upton: Using change management best practices, I lay out the eight critical steps necessary for the DEI work to be substantive and last. At each step in the process, I share "what" to do and "how" to do it.

"MAKE IT LAST: A Roadmap and Practical Strategies for How to Do DEI" can be purchased wherever books are sold or directly here.

Edited by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.

Photo Courtesy of MK Creative.


More stories you'll love