Is DNI Woke?

Ian Beckett MSc
3 min readSep 14, 2022
ubahn vienna barriers © ian beckett

Diversity and Inclusion (DNI) strategies are adopted by businesses with the same enthusiasm as Enviromental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies — officially to augment shareholder value and facilitate the deployment of organisation transformation services to global businesses.

This is essential if the business is to avoid the fate predicted by McKinsey of a corporate life expectancy of fewer than 18 years by 2027.

The right-wing backlash against transformation by industry dinosaurs and politicians has usurped the term “woke” as a weapon.

The word “woke” once meant something, kind of. But now it’s just an empty, all-purpose insult hurled by conservative propagandists, anti-vaccine fabulists, lazy journalists, and people who don’t want to know our history.

What’s wrong with any of that? To “stay woke” was to stay involved with issues of public concern. It meant being an active citizen and insisting that one’s voice be heard. In its original sense or senses, wokeness was clearly a good thing.

DNI and ESG strategies should deliver bottom-line value if executed by a committed executive team — lip service will not work and sadly as all businesses tend to rise and fall as per McKinsey’s assessment, this results in commitment avoidance.

Running faster to stand still is the result as The Red Queen postulated in Alice.

Employees who have been subject to structured rollouts of DNI and ESG strategies see the subsequent abandonment of the same, due to economic priorities, as hypocrisy towards their individual needs and the responsible use of the planet's resources.

This hypocrisy is called out in the traditional right-wing manual for behaviour — “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” But I guess religion is put back in its box when it comes to business and “thoughts and prayers” offered up when it all goes wrong.

Sadly I experienced this — when Westinghouse staff terminations in Baltimore “only” resulted in 12 suicides. As my friends know 3 of the 8 global companies I have worked for qualified as “toxic” enterprises — unsurprisingly executives responsible for this never achieved superstar status subsequently.

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Ian Beckett MSc

Ian is a digital transformation expert who has saved companies over $250m by integrating technologies and diverse global teams effectively— he is a CEO and poet