Organizations have started recognizing the need for a focused Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy. As they embark on this journey, they often wonder where to begin. DEI champions are appointed and are provided support in the form of teams and financial resources. Despite ambitious goals being finalized, the path to be undertaken for their realisation is often unclear.
Here are some building blocks that will provide a strong foundation for the implementation of your DEI strategy.
Get leadership onboard
For DEI strategy and programs to flourish, they should have the unequivocal support of the leadership team. DEI champions should ensure that all leaders are aware of the DEI programs planned to achieve the goals. Leaders should be encouraged to be vocal about diversity and inclusion topics. Aligning leaders with DEI-centric Employee Resource Groups also helps champion the cause. Get leaders to walk the talk as DEI ambassadors of your organization and lead by example.
Develop a robust yet flexible plan of action
Design a DEI framework that works for your organization and get policies and processes in place. Refer to best practices and case studies of companies who have successfully implemented DEI strategies. Lay the groundwork and plan phase-wise execution. Factor in the time and effort for iterations as the DEI space is dynamic. Keep your ears to the ground and be flexible to incorporate feedback. Don't rely solely on organic transformations. Manage ERGs and plan online and offline programs, events, workshops, seminars for engagement.
Enable communication channels
A two-way communication channel lies at the heart of all DEI related initiatives. Ensure clear communication flows from the management about their efforts towards making diversity and inclusion a priority. Administer DEI surveys to gauge employee sentiments and keep an open channel for communication by using internal platforms such as ERG Management Softwares. Schedule Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) sessions to build trust and talk about current and future DEI projects.
Define and track metrics
Define metrics that will help you gauge the success of your DEI programs. DEI metrics such as gender ratio, representation, employee engagement and satisfaction, ERG memberships are simple indicators that can be tracked even in organizations that are in the nascent stage of incorporating DEI-centric activities. Focusing on metrics from the start comes in handy while pitching new ideas to the leadership team as well as in assessing the efficacy of different DEI programs.
Revisit the recruitment pipeline
Bring about a change in the recruitment process. Organizations tend to have homogenous workforces if sourcing patterns are not revisited from time to time. Unconscious bias can creep in during the hiring process. Anonymizing the screening process is a great way to facilitate fair hiring. Training and sensitizing hiring managers in matters related to underrepresentation coupled with efforts to intentionally diversify the candidate pipeline will pave the path for a diverse and equitable workforce.
Implementing these pointers will take you closer to achieving your organizational DEI goals. Getting the basics right at the start will open the doors to introduce new tailor-made practices over time.
Which of these steps poses the biggest challenge at your organization?
Let us know in the comments and we will share tips to overcome them.