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NSP’s Commitment to Social Justice and DEI

Black lives matter. Next Step Partners stands against systemic racism and bias. We are committed to furthering social justice as well as diversity, equity and inclusion, both in our work with companies and organizations and within our own firm.

Systemic racism has many expressions. We all have the capacity to be racist or anti-racist in our actions. Our work either maintains the status quo or works to change it. Our core firm values are pursuing excellence, continuous learning, developing long-term partnerships, being direct and making work better, and our commitment to social justice and DEI must inform all of these. 

In our leadership development work, we often reference a “learning ladder” that divides the process of adult learning into four successive stages:  unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. This applies to being effective in DEI, social justice work and allyship as much as anything else.

The only way to move from incompetence to competence is through self-awareness, humility and learning. As coaches, we know that learning starts with being curious and listening. Learning can be hard, is not comfortable, and can challenge our personal identities – but we know that discomfort is a necessary part of growth.  

Here is what we are doing to do better:  

1. Our firm:

We are all committed to reflecting on, questioning and developing our own personal level of consciousness and competence regarding racial injustice, in particular (though not limited to) the experience of Black people in America. This includes examining our own privilege, taking responsibility for educating ourselves, and taking action in service to this commitment. It also includes holding one another accountable for these commitments.

We are doubling down on our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion within our own firm. We will challenge ourselves to critique our progress objectively, push beyond incrementalism and think more deeply about how we design and bring to life a broadly diverse workplace. 

2. Our work with clients:

We’re examining our responsibility to engage with clients around the subjects of social justice as well as diversity, equity and inclusion as part of fulfilling our vision of developing leaders who create positive change in the world. 

Questions we are taking on include:

  • What is our role as coaches?  What do we stand for?
  • Where should racial justice, DEI and related topics show up in leadership-development curricula, regardless of what clients say they want?  
  • How well are we doing in holding up a mirror between our clients’ stated values and their behaviors?  
  • What are we learning from organizations who get this right? And from those who get it wrong? How can we do a better job of sharing this learning?
  • How do we engage in this work with others when we are still learning? 

At Next Step Partners, we have many stakeholders:  client organizations, individual coachees, industry colleagues, community members, and people who read our thought pieces on leadership. We welcome input from all of you and value you as learning partners. 

We are committed to learning and growing together.