In the Burroughs | Children's Minnesota | The Kid Experts

To commit or not commit to equity and inclusion, that is the question.

June 19 is Juneteenth, the day all enslaved people in America were finally freed.

Today, 159 years later, we’re still working for racial and health equity in our country.

The goal, for all people to have what they need to live healthy, peaceful and prosperous lives, hasn’t changed.

What changes is the commitment to that goal.

Just four years after the murder of George Floyd, states are outlawing and corporations are cutting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Four years of semi-commitment is not enough to overcome more than 400 years of exclusion and discrimination that led to racial and health inequities.

Before you think about cutting DEI, I want you to consider two things.


Those who abandon DEI are shooting themselves in the foot. As Tiffani Daniels, executive director of the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity told me in a Talking Pediatrics podcast:

“Our businesses need diverse talent to thrive. Higher levels of representation, specifically racial and ethnic representation drive higher levels of innovation and stronger financial performance. Here in the state of Minnesota, the opportunity cost of racism is estimated to be about $287 billion dollars. At a national level, the economy would be $8 trillion dollars richer by 2050 if we were to seriously address our racial disparities in this country.”

Diverse teams bring a wealth of perspectives and experience to the table, strengthening a company’s ability to compete and succeed. When employees feel valued, respected and heard, they’re more positive, productive and less likely to leave. Plus, we live in a diverse society; DEI efforts help us better understand and connect with the communities we serve.

DEI is a moral imperative and a business imperative. A decision to dismantle, scale back or outlaw diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives is a decision that hurts people and business.


DEI is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Some companies that are frustrated with a lack of progress may have jumped into the work too quickly, without enough preparation or resources. They weren’t set up for success. And now that they’re not seeing success, or they’re finding the work harder than they thought, or they need a place to trim the budget, they’re dropping out.

This scenario is common and not surprising. But there is a way to get back on track. It starts with this article on the five stages of DEI maturity. It lays out a series of questions to help companies examine where they are, where they need to go and how to get there. I urge you to read it. I urge you to share it.

A CEO who I trust very much asked this question recently at a meeting where we were discussing racial equity: “If we do not stand for diversity, equity and inclusion in our business culture, should we in the alternative stand for employee uniformity, a culture of bias and unfairness, and practices that promote exclusion?” The answer is obvious. DEI promotes a better business culture and is worth the investment.

It’s much harder to be transformative than performative. But inclusive change is possible. The benefits of DEI to business, and to people, are too important to pass up. Let’s solve the challenges of racial and health equity in our lifetime.

James Burroughs

James Burroughs
Senior vice president, government and community relations, chief equity and inclusion officer

James Burroughs is the senior vice president, government and community relations, chief equity and inclusion officer at Children's Minnesota. He is responsible for advancing equity and inclusion in all parts of the organization.
Follow James on Twitter and LinkedIn.