The need for a strong foundation

This example highlights the need for building a common understanding of foundational concepts and establishing a shared language. Equity and equality are two very different approaches to fairness!

To be effective in advancing DEI in the workplace, we also need clarity on the why and the how – why we do it, how we approach it, what the organizational practices related to DEI are, what behaviours are inclusive, and which areas we can influence. We must reflect on our experiences and explore what parts of our identity give us advantages and disadvantages. This will provide us with a strong foundation and enable us to approach DEI strategically.

Introducing DEI Essentials

Not being sure where to start, what approach to take, whose responsibility it is, or how to do DEI right are common barriers to taking action. I developed DEI Essentials – an interactive and evidence-based e-learning course on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to help leaders and employees overcome these obstacles. I want to give as many people as possible practical knowledge so they can be more effective when introducing changes in the workplace, and be better at building organizations that work well for everyone.

My use of the word equity as opposed to equality is intentional. Recognizing how the workplaces were not designed with everyone in mind and understanding that there are systematic errors in how we treat people depending on what social group they belong to are fundamental mindset shifts that need to happen to do DEI work right. After an introductory module explaining the why of DEI, module two explores just that as we examine two myths about our workplaces:

  • Neutrality Myth – the belief that our workplaces are organized in an objective and neutral way,
  • Meritocracy Myth – the belief that our workplaces are meritocracies and people advance based on talent, effort, and performance – their merit.

In module three we dig deeper into core concepts including equity and contrast two ways an organization can approach issues in the workplace. Module four explores organizational practices and finally, the last module focuses on inclusive behaviours that make a difference. These are especially important if you are a manager as your behaviour impacts almost 50% of the feeling of inclusion for your team.

During the course, I define foundational concepts, debunk common misconceptions, and explore the latest research in the field with data from North America and Europe (including Poland). I share examples of organizational practices and individual behaviours that advance DEI and give you strategic frameworks you can use in your workplace.

Building foundational DEI capacities

While the main principles of DEI work apply to organizations anywhere in the world, this course has been tailored to the European audience. I have worked extensively with Canadian and European organizations, I can see clear patterns of differences and similarities.

To give you one example, in Poland, where I currently reside, only 3% of companies have a formal DEI strategy and 19% plan to create one. We need to develop foundational DEI capacities of leaders and employees to do better.

Check out DEI Essentials to build a strong foundation that organizes your knowledge and sets you up for success when implementing changes. Use coupon code foundationdei2023 to receive 20% off when signing up for the course in the next four weeks.


Anna Kostecka (she/her)

Managing Director at What Works. She is a globally-minded Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategist with 12+ years of experience supporting organizations around the world on their DEI journey.