Oct 20, 2023

A conversation about DEI with Chloé Valdary

Valdary shares her approach and how it has changed her.

I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”

Today's email is a subscribers-only Friday edition. We'll be back in your inbox on Monday with our typical daily newsletter.

Over the last few years, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training has become a hot topic in the United States.

After George Floyd’s murder, a culture war about how to address racism — and to what extent — played out all across the country. In response, many corporations and organizations implemented DEI trainings as a way to respond to rising racial tensions. But some have argued that DEI training is ineffective, and could even worsen race relations in the workplace.

Recently, I got a chance to sit down with Chloé Valdary, who developed the Theory of Enchantment, a “framework for compassionate antiracism work that combines social emotional learning, character development, and interpersonal growth as tools for leadership development in the boardroom and beyond.” 

I first came across Valdary’s work as a political commentator — as someone whose incisive opinions seemed divorced from political ideologies and hard to put into any one bucket. She viewed the world in a way that I found unpredictable and non-partisan, which I found appealing. But as I learned more about her work in the anti-racism space I became even more intrigued, so I reached out to her to chat about the curriculum she was developing. 

Apparently I am not the only one who is intrigued. She’s now led trainings all around the world, including in South Africa, The Netherlands, Germany, and Israel. Theory of Enchantment has been covered by international media outlets, and her writing has been featured in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Today, we discuss how it all came to be, how Theory of Enhancement actually works, what she thinks of other DEI programs, and how she views her politics at this moment. 

Editor’s note: Chloé and I spoke just hours before Hamas’s attack on Israel, so I unfortunately missed an opportunity to discuss her expertise on that topic. Our conversation has been edited lightly for clarity and length.