From Intention to Impact: How to Create More Inclusive Environments

April 3, 2024

From Intention to Impact: How to Create More Inclusive Environments

We hear a lot about DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) policies these days. But the work is often misunderstood, and even disparaged. In this episode, Lindsey Cotter, Chief Inclusion Officer at Scholastic, and Malia C. Lazu, Founder and CEO of the consulting firm Lazu Group, discuss effective ways to create more inclusive environments. Doing so is not just a moral imperative, they argue. Statistically, it leads to better outcomes for everyone.

Lindsey has been at Scholastic for more than 20 years. Before taking on her current role, she served as Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Employee Services. Malia is a Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the author of From Intention to Impact: A Practical Guide to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2024).

Early in her career, Malia worked with singer Harry Belafonte and other civil rights leaders to help bring more opportunities to young people in marginalized communities. “Instead of just rushing in with solutions and answers,” Malia writes, “we listened and learned before we took action.” Her book is essential reading for anyone serious about implementing DEI policies.


7 reasons why your organization isn't making DEI progress: Malia C. Lazu discusses common pitfalls in DEI implementation.

From Intention to Impact: Check out Malia’s book on diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Lindsey Cotter, Chief Inclusion Officer, Scholastic Inc.

“How do we use DEI as a way to strengthen our ability to communicate and interact with one another, to have an awareness of the differences in culture, and be sure that the things that we’re doing from a business perspective as well as an interpersonal perspective are respectful of one another? That’s hard. It’s a journey. It’s not a destination.”

“My mother was a kindergarten teacher, and she colored in the characters in picture books. She did the same thing with cards because there was no representation.”

“This [work] is going to make a difference for girls coming up now, for women who are out there.”

Malia C. Lazu, author, From Intention to Impact: A Practical Guide to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

“After [the murder of] George Floyd, so many people were asking us, ‘What can we do?’ What can we do?’ As a woman of color, as a woman of color firm, it was a frustrating question because we had been talking about what you could do for hundreds of years, long before I was born.”

“Being an ally is about deconstructing power and trying to keep doors and windows open [for others].”

“I’ve had clients look at me and say, ‘But we’re good people.’ I wish that were enough. If you set an intention to do something that you haven’t done before, you need to know that you probably don’t have the tools, skills, or understanding to do it, and you need to respect those blind spots in yourself.”

Special Thanks

Producer: Maxine Osa

Sound engineer: Daniel Jordan

Music composer: Lucas Elliot Eberl

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