As organizations across the globe strive to increase diversity and inclusion within the workplace, more pressure is being put on D&I Leads and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers. The hard truth is, simply having a D&I Lead does not solve the issues surrounding diversity and inclusion in an organization. Your role as a D&I Lead should have a clear purpose backed with a concrete action plan to avoid being tokenized and providing no real value to the company. It is also essential to move fast with your decision-making. The golden time frame to lay the foundation for a successful diversity and inclusion strategy is often within the first 100 days.
In order to be successful as a D&I Lead, there are crucial steps you should include in your 100-day DEI strategic plan.
Align on D&I Vision
An effective D&I strategy has high leadership buy-in. Thus, the key to success lies in ensuring everyone is aligned with the overall D&I mission and vision. The first step is to meet with key stakeholders, including senior leadership and human resources, to build the vision and set the broad goals. This part of the process includes assessing your company’s DEI track record and company culture, then mapping out the road ahead accordingly. It is crucial that senior-level leadership is 100% on board with the D&I strategy, as they are the ones who dictate how much time and effort will be put into improving DEI at the company.
Allocate a Team and Resources
Improving diversity and inclusion should not be the responsibility of a single person in an organization ⎯ an entire team of people should collaborate on the process. You should identify departments that are an important piece in your company’s D&I strategy and work with specific people to spearhead certain initiatives. This will allow you to build a team and network of people within the company that is helping to drive diversity and inclusion. You should also dedicate a set budget towards D&I initiatives that accounts for your company’s size, strategy, and goals. Areas the budget should cover include training and external resources, employee support and ERGs, staffing costs, and important partnerships. At the end of the day, you should ensure that you are allocating sufficient resources and staffing to the D&I cause.
Identify and Address Pain Points
With the vision set and the team ready, the next step is to identify your company’s pain points. This involves taking a deep dive into the company’s current state and collecting relevant diversity measures such as data on ethnicity and race, national origin, gender identity and sexual orientation, veteran status, and more. As D&I is a complex and evolving space that can be difficult to measure, it is good to bring in external resources and tools ⎯ , especially when your company lacks the resources and expertise to do so internally. There are tools developed by teams dedicated to improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, which make use of advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence.
Diversio, for example, has a variety of services that track D&I metrics and provide unique recommendations tailored to your company’s specific problem areas. These recommendations include detailed implementation plans and a roster of helpful resources to help you execute them. They are also able to benchmark your company against the rest of your industry in various areas such as fair management, safe work environment, and inclusive culture.
Educate and Normalize
While you, as the D&I Lead, carry the main responsibility of spearheading the company’s D&I strategy, every employee has a stake in the process at the end of the day. To truly onboard all parts of the company onto the D&I plan, education and the normalization of inclusion beyond the moment are essential. You should set the tone for expectations and behaviour surrounding inclusion in the workplace and communicate this to employees so that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, verbalizing support for a diverse community and including employees in the conversation goes a long way in closing racial gaps and creating an inclusive workplace.
Build Credibility and Momentum
Now that you have set the tone and laid out the groundwork for diversity and inclusion expectations within the organization, you should not stop there. A trigger is often what brings a company’s attention to diversity and inclusion initiatives, while momentum and credibility are what will drive those initiatives forward. With the existence of a large number of studies and research on diversity and inclusion, it is essential that you build credibility into your company’s DEI strategy by basing initiatives on actual research and data. This will help ensure maximum effectiveness. As mentioned above, external tools like Diversio can significantly assist with incorporating credibility into your process and also keep the ball and momentum rolling.
The benefits of increasing diversity and inclusion in an organization are apparent, with higher employee engagement and retention and improved performance being just a few to name. However, your company’s ability to reap these benefits depends greatly on how you, as a D&I Lead, execute the strategy. Your 100-day plan should be tangible, starting with the overarching goals but then moving to executable actions. It should also be comprehensive, covering all aspects, including vision, allocation, diagnosis, and culture. As a D&I Lead, your actions in the first 100 days will be crucial in determining the tone and precedent set for the company’s future.
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