Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown takes on DE&I with new training for businesses

Brown tackles unconscious bias, microaggressions, and inclusion in the workplace in a new online DE&I course.
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Queer Eye/Netflix via Giphy

· 4 min read

Karamo Brown isn’t an unlikely advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. As the culture expert on Netflix’s Queer Eye, he helps people work through personal issues and find their voice. Living at the intersection of his Black and gay identities, and as a son of immigrants, he told HR Brew that at work, “You quickly learn what it is that needs to be done to make sure that people feel included, they feel seen, and make sure that they understand how to speak up for themselves and how to appreciate others.”

Now, Brown is lending his experience and expertise to help the corporate world, by launching a free, eight-lesson DE&I course in September. He partnered with e-learning platform EdApp to design the training for employees of all levels with the goal of encouraging small changes that collectively make an impact in the workplace.

“This is not a one-size-fits-all [program], but it is a great start for people to understand and appreciate the things that people go through and how we can all act in making other people’s lives better,” he said.

HR pros, Brown said, play a vital role in ensuring that companies fulfill and see their DE&I commitments reflected in the experiences of their employees.

He spoke with HR Brew about his thoughts on DE&I, his own experiences, and the importance of being an advocate.

What were some of the things that were important for you to include in the curriculum?

Crafting this curriculum, we want to make sure that people who are not in these intersections of different identities could understand what someone could be feeling and what happens to them…It’s been pretty excellent, the feedback from people saying, “Oh, I kind of get it. I understand now what part I played. I understand what I can be doing.”

Were there aspects of this project that surprised you, or things that you learned?

Even though I do have these intersections, there’s still other intersections that I’m not privy to, that I still need to be paying attention to and be conscious of. I’m not disabled, so I don’t know the experience of someone who lives with a disability…It was important for me to make sure…that we were thinking about that and understanding that even when you feel like you live at these intersections where you wouldn’t have biases, that you could have biases, or that you could have a lack of education, and it was super important for me to make sure that I was doing that work, and that it reflected in the curriculum that we need to constantly be doing the work.

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Can you tell me a little bit about why, as a celebrity, it’s important to you to use your status and platform to lift up DE&I work?

Unfortunately, or fortunately, we live in a culture where those in the media are the ones that we will listen to, those are the ones that we believe are the loudest. I don’t believe that…but I do understand the importance of having a reach where I can touch people and talk to people that sometimes might not talk to each other…It was important to say, “This is something that someone in middle America needs to be able to understand,” and if I can be the conduit to get them there, then that’s great.

Can you tell me about why you were interested in making sure that diverse talent was being heard as you were launching your television show, Karamo?

My executive producers on my show are both women. There’s an African American woman and a white woman…A lot of times, EPs of shows are usually men, and to be conscious about making sure that we are bringing in individuals who have diverse backgrounds and giving them a seat at the table and making sure that their voices are heard and they’re being paid equally is super important…If you’re wanting to be at the helm of a [workplace] culture, you are making these decisions. For me, it’s like, if I’m gonna talk the talk, I’ve got to walk the walk.

Anything HR pros should know or expect to experience when implementing DE&I work?

You’re going to experience pushback. You’re gonna experience fatigue…This is a journey. If things were correct and fine, we wouldn’t be having this curriculum, we wouldn’t have these courses. So, understand that you’re going to have to pace yourself, that you’re going to have to be patient with yourself. You’re gonna have to make sure that you find support… It’s about being holistically aware that this is not an easy task, but it’s the task that’s necessary.

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected] or DM @adamderose on Twitter. For completely confidential conversations, ask Adam for his number on Signal.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.