Diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies are a must for businesses of all types and sizes today. Yet, 45% of businesses report that they have not begun work on their DEI strategy or are still in the beginning stages.
Common barriers to DEI implementation include cultural resistance and lack of buy-in, not knowing where to start, and not having well-defined goals and a structured approach to the process. Starting with a strategic template for DEI initiatives can help solve some of these challenges.
A structured approach to DEI can:
- Increase buy-in at all levels of the organization as employees & leaders see an unbiased, logical approach to the strategy
- Provide a starting point and guideposts to help your team create a DEI strategy that supports positive workplace culture as well as business goals
- Help you set measurable objectives & cascade those objectives across the organization for a holistic approach to DEI
What is a DEI strategy plan?
A DEI strategy plan is a written document that details how an organization plans to support diversity, equity, and inclusion. It includes specific goals for DEI in an organization, along with definitions of how progress toward goals will be measured. The plan may also identify certain strategies or tasks that may enhance DEI within a business, including knowledge management and training, development of inclusion programs, and changes to hiring practices.
A strategic DEI plan allows an organization to move forward with diversity, equity, and inclusion in a holistic and consistent manner. That’s not always the case with ad-hoc DEI initiatives, which can rise and fall quickly due to a lack of structure. Ad-hoc approaches also leave room for biases or misunderstandings to slip in because they aren’t always well-defined and managed.
Why every organization needs a DEI strategic template
Implementing DEI in your organization is critical to long-term success today. First, because employees are starting to demand diversity and inclusion. According to Pew Research, more than half of all workers say that it’s important for employers to focus on increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Second, DEI strategies can have a positive impact on business performance. For example, McKinsey & Company analysis indicates that businesses that perform in the top quartile when it comes to diversity are 15% to 36% more likely to outperform financial goals than businesses in the bottom quartile.
To get these benefits and best serve employees, ensure your plan is cohesive and complete by starting with a DEI strategic templates. A template can help you consistently work toward DEI goals, communicate clearly about your goals, and create measurable outcomes for success.
Key components of a DEI strategic template
Look for DEI strategic templates that are comprehensive without being too complex to navigate or implement. Ensure the template you select includes the key elements required to create a successful DEI plan. Some important elements of DEI templates include:
- Vision & mission statements. This section helps you think intentionally about the purpose behind your DEI strategy. If you don’t know the mission behind DEI in your organization—or you’re just engaging in this process because it seems like the next item on a checklist—you may find that your strategy is ineffective. Having a clear vision and mission statement also helps you communicate the “why” of your strategy to others & foster buy-in at all levels of your organization.
- Objectives & goals. Once you know the why behind your DEI strategy, you can develop the “what.” Think about what you want to accomplish in your business and set goals and objectives. Make them SMART goals, meaning specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, & time-bound. For example, perhaps one of your goals is to improve team culture. You might measure that with a survey about employee satisfaction & culture, starting with a baseline measurement & striving to increase positive performance indicators by 10% quarter over quarter.
- Key performance indicators (KPIs). Select & define the KPIs you’ll use to measure success. If you’re using employee satisfaction as a measurement, how exactly will you analyze it? You might ask employees to rate certain team culture factors on a scale of 1 to 5 every quarter, for instance, & use those data points as KPIs. Whatever your goals, measurable outcomes are critical to understanding how to move the needle and whether you’ve done so.
- Action plans. Finally, create detailed action plans meant to drive you from your current state to your objectives. Consider major initiatives & tasks in implementing DEI strategies — such as staff DEI training — & include those on your template. When necessary, break them down into smaller milestones and achievable rocks so you can realistically work on them & delegate work to the appropriate people.
Customizing the DEI template for your organization
Remember that a template is a starting point. You should always customize a strategic template to fit the needs of your organization and speak to the challenges your teams tend to face. Start by getting insights from employees and stakeholders about the template and what it needs to help you accomplish. You can also look at industry benchmarks and best practices in DEI implementation to understand what else to include on a strategy template.
Here are a few tips for gathering insights from your subject-matter experts and stakeholders:
- Begin by opening the conversation about DEI strategy. Invite stakeholders & others to share why this might be an important step for them & what they would like to see happen as a result of DEI implementation.
- Discuss the need for a written plan. Talk about the benefits of a well-organized, structured approach, & open the door to conversation about what a strong DEI plan might look like.
- Present a potential DEI template. Offer a DEI strategy template you think might work or that you want to use as a foundation for creating your own template. Ask for input about what seems to work or not work about the template. With your team, brainstorm what else should be included on the template & what changes might ensure it serves you better.
Implementing the DEI strategic template
DEI implementation looks different in each organization, but there are some tried-and-true steps you can take in moving from the completion of your template to rolling out your strategy.
- Identify your vision & set goals, as noted above.
- Create a team for DEI implementation. The team should include relevant stakeholders & skill-holders in your organization, including individuals from departments such as human resources, knowledge management, compliance, & leadership. You may also want to include subject-matter experts who can help with various initiatives, such as resources from tech departments.
- Gain leadership buy-in. Ensure you have strong sponsorship for your DEI initiatives from across the leadership spectrum, including from executives & department heads.
- Gather employee feedback. Use methods such as surveys, interviews, & focus groups to find out what employees want to see related to diversity, equity, & inclusion. These insights also let you create a baseline for DEI performance now so you can compare performance once you implement solutions.
- Communicate DEI goals. Be transparent about the process and what you’re trying to achieve. Provide employees at all levels of your organization with the mission statement related to your DEI initiative as well as information about how the implementation may impact them or how they can be involved.
- Implement solutions. Back up communication with action.
- Report, analyze, & repeat. Consider performance metrics, tweak DEI processes, & continuously improve your approach.
Monitoring & adapting the DEI strategic template
Diversity, equity, and inclusion is not a one-and-done project. It’s an ongoing approach to work culture and employer best practices. To that end, it’s critical that you continuously monitor performance and seek feedback from employees and other stakeholders.
Some tools you might use for this include employee surveys and KPIs that are related to or tend to fluctuate based on employee morale. For example, production may go up or down in your organization depending on how employees feel about their work environment.
Consider implementing a data and analytics platform to help you track this information.
DEI is important in modern business environments, and the best way to implement these changes is through a carefully structured strategic approach. Use our free DEI template as a starting point to support structure as you work toward a more inclusive future.