Many organizations want to do the right thing. They want to increase their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). However, a true DEI commitment starts not just with a wish, but with a DEI strategy.
On our DEI Framework, DEI Strategy and Leadership Commitment are the first two “oars” in directing your organization to the target.
That’s because an idea without a strategy or plan, is a dream. DEI work involves your entire organization. But, you need leadership commitment to make progress. So, let’s look more closely at what these two “oars” represent.
DEI Strategy: Define DEI Purpose, Vision, Values
Why does your organization want to commit to DEI? You may have a combination of reasons including:
- cultivating a productive and engaging workplace culture,
- a better experience for clients or end-users,
- or research that shows that diverse teams lead to better outputs and increased productivity.
Interestingly, McKinsey and Company’s 2015 Report on 366 public companies found that public companies in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have above average financial returns.
Identifying the “why” for your organization will help you define the “how.” Your why and how should both be tied to the company’s mission, vision, and organizational values.
DEI Strategy: Establish Governance Body
Ideally, everyone in your organization “owns” DEI initiatives. But realistically, someone, or a group of people, need to provide oversight and track progress. The DEI governance body should be led by the organization’s CEO or top leadership, represent diverse perspectives, and be empowered to institute organization wide change. The DEI governance body should plan to engage all levels of the organization as they embark on the journey of identifying goals and objectives. They need to define the DEI lexicon for the initiative and establishing accountability measures.
DEI Strategy: Identify Metrics to Evaluate Outcomes and Progress
To ensure accountability and transparency, you must identify metrics to track the outcomes of the DEI strategic plan. Metrics you may want to track include:
- targeted efforts to increase representation at multiple levels of the organization,
- training development, and promotion opportunities for underrepresented groups,
- and equitable and inclusive workplace culture practices.
Leadership Commitment: Define Leadership Roles and Expectations
For a DEI strategy to work, leadership has to model the behavior, values, and norms that foster an equitable and inclusive workplace. Clearly, it is imperative for individual leaders to be on their own DEI journey (leading the self) while inspiring peers and their direct reports (leading others).
Leadership Commitment: Empower Leaders as Diversity Champions and Change Agents
Do your internal leaders have the tools they need to make change happen? Are they able to educate themselves and others on creating an equitable and inclusive environment? Management and leadership training can be expanded to include increased knowledge of how to lessen the impact of unconscious bias, micro-aggressions, and bystander syndrome. Cultivating a curriculum for learning and education that supports leadership commitment is ideal. Engaging a skillset DEI trainer or facilitator to navigate difficult conversations or working as a team or independently to take an Equity Challenge are all options to consider.
Every DEI strategy is unique and a work in progress. Closely examining the components outlined in our framework and finding a way to work through the discomfort that conversations about DEI raise will help create a strategy that is impactful, accessible, and sustainable for your organization.
You can download our free DEI Framework to help you get started.