Creating a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy that Works
Have you ever wondered what it takes to create a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy?
Before I started TI Verbatim Consulting (TIVC), I worked for the corporate world and vividly remember being asked to provide a business case for allocating funds towards DEI. This is still happening today, even with all the research supporting the many benefits of DEI, including enriching an organization’s identity, enhancing employee engagement, and increasing positive customer experiences and company revenue.
Oftentimes, even when DEI is socialized and money is invested, the program is built around symbolic activities that achieve very little. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chili cook off and diversity fairs and appreciate the social bonding they provide. But these types of events should only be executed as celebratory occasions that are a product of a successful DEI strategy and execution. A purposeful and meaningful DEI strategy requires time and commitment that is championed by all layers of the organization.
When a company or organization commits to developing a thoughtful and thorough DEI strategy, the following tactics should be a part of the execution strategy:
- Top-Down Buy-In. It should always start at the top. If leadership is not vocalizing the business case, the commitment required for success is not there. Without clear messaging from leadership there will be no accountability.
- DEI Should Not Report to Human Resources. If you are serious about DEI, the program should belong to and report to directly to the CEO. Human Resources should never be responsible for the development and implementation of the DEI program.
- Create an Executive Diversity Council (EDC). The EDC should be made up of senior leadership. In larger organizations, it should be compromised of senior officers from all business units. The EDC reports directly to the CEO and should be instrumental in the development and implementation of the DEI strategy.
- Create Departmental or Business Unit Diversity Councils. These should be made up of the workforce and led by mid-level leaders who will support and socialize the strategic DEI goals and program implementation.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Remember if the workforce doesn’t see it or hear about it—it doesn’t exist. The more you communicate DEI goals and benefits, the more employees will support it.
- Create Accountability. Develop metrics for all goals and objectives and hold leaders accountable.
- Continuously Assess and Make Refinements. Monitoring progress and setbacks allows for adjustments where needed to ensure overall success.
Organizational investment and commitment into attracting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce based on measurable goals and objectives will ensure accountability and set up a solid framework for strategy development. Tactics may include the development of a new onboarding program, instituting an intern program, launching employee resources groups or making a commitment to increase recruiting at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
DEI strategies fail because they are created in a silo, don’t incorporate the workforce, leadership is not fully committed or the process is rushed. Creating and sustaining a DEI program is a marathon, not a sprint—it requires proper training and preparation and full dedication and support.
TIVC’s mission is to help people work better together, and we are a proven leader in Human Enterprise Optimization recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest assets. TIVC was founded by Jean Payne in 2014. It is a CVE-certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business headquartered in Charles Town, WV. We have current and former contracts with government and commercial customers across the nation.
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