Group of college students talking with a teacher in a libraryFinancial coaches and counselors often ask ourselves what diversity, equity and inclusion or DEI means to us, whether in our practices or daily life, and some challenges faced in implementing DEI.  Further, we wonder what it means to be an ally and whether it is enough to have compassion and empathy when it comes to DEI.  During the DEI Networking Chat at Symposium, the AFCPE DEI Task Force tackled these challenging topics and encouraged participants to do the same in small group discussions.

What Does DEI Mean to Financial Coaches and Counselors?

What DEI means in our daily lives or organizations prompted a robust discussion in the various small group discussions.  Some participants noted how understanding cultural differences and clients’ experiences would help better serve them.  Other participants noted that looking at our personal biases is the first step toward change.  DEI means constantly educating ourselves to continue learning and growing for others.  Some participants noted the importance of fostering a discussion around equity and economic justice when asked how DEI looks in practice.  It was clear from the discussions that while DEI means many different things to many different people, they could not underestimate the importance of advocating for it.

What Challenges Have You Encountered In Implementing DEI Principles?

Some of the challenges discussed in implementing DEI included getting past distrust and language barriers.  Participants noted difficulty finding appropriate financial tools, products, and services for diverse populations.  One of the small groups also discussed how some of the images companies select for their products could also serve as a DEI barrier for people using them.

What Does It Mean to Be an Ally?

This question prompted several conversations, including the importance of acceptance and educating younger generations on the value of inclusion. The small groups also discussed what it means to be an ally in the DEI space. One participant even noted that they preferred the term “battle buddy” instead of an ally since the latter indicates having more of an investment in a shared outcome, and the idea had a very warm reception when returning to the large group to share key takeaways.  

Is Compassion and Empathy Enough?

The consensus appears to be that compassion and empathy work when coupled with action.  Several different forms of action were discussed, including becoming involved in advocacy groups and continuing the DEI conversation.

How to Continue the Conversation?

Continue to share best practices with fellow AFCPE members through the Connected Community, review the AFCPE DEI Toolkit, and read DEI-focused publications in The Standard and the Journal of Financial Counseling & Planning (JFCP).  Consider joining the DEI Task Force; submit your interest through Connect Community.

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