Talk about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is now commonplace at most workplaces. Organization’s spend a lot of time and energy in identifying their current state by tracking certain DEI metrics. However, since this exercise itself requires dedicated efforts, they often unintentionally end up only tracking metrics and begin some arbitrary awareness campaigns. A structured action plan is often missing.
Here is a sample action plan with effective steps that would move the needle and generate tangible results.
Identify DEI Maturity
The first step is to identify where your organization lies in terms of DEI maturity. A common mistake made in this step is assigning a DEI maturity level to the organization as a whole. However, different functions in the organization can display different levels of DEI maturity. The sales team can have very low diversity compared to the marketing team. Hence, it is important to divide your organization into sub-teams and track DEI maturity for each independently.
Once DEI maturity is identified for different teams, it is time to assign priority to each. Key stakeholders will need to identify the areas where a DEI fix will have the most business impact. Past employee satisfaction surveys and attrition numbers will aid this decision-making. Diverse teams have also shown to innovate more compared to homogeneous teams. With this data point, product development teams could be prioritized for DEI recalibration.
The leadership team has to be completely aligned with all DEI-related decisions and initiatives. Leadership buy-in at the start itself will simplify approvals related to expenses and policy changes in the future. The leaders themselves need to be DEI transformation agents through their words and actions. Inclusive leaders who look at all key projects through a DEI lens inspire other employees about the cause which can have a ripple effect across the organization.
After determining the key areas that would display a significant impact on the business and onboarding leaders, the next step is to identify the teams and people who would be responsible for bringing about the change. Apart from finalizing the tasks that would move the indices on the maturity level, these teams and individuals need to be entrusted with measurable goals and should be held accountable for the assigned metrics. For example, if the HR team is deemed accountable for correcting the biased recruitment pipeline, they will have to deliver the results and cannot just be a bystander.
Policies and processes are just as important as people. Systems that are in place need to be checked and corrected to fix any DEI-specific discrepancies. While creating awareness in employees is one aspect, the other critical aspect is having procedures in place that support the rectification of any conscious or unconscious bias that is prevalent which is causing a skew in DEI metrics. Anonymous resume screening and robust whistleblower processes are ways in which system related changes can be made. These will have a long-term impact on DEI numbers if done right.
All DEI efforts need to be communicated to the employees. Successes as well as failures should be shared equally. This would create a degree of transparency that would be appreciated by all. They would feel part of the organization’s DEI journey and try their best to facilitate positive DEI outcomes in their own line of work. Consistent communication would not only educate employees about the challenges faced by certain marginalized groups at the workplace but also inspire them to be better citizens outside the workplace.
An action plan with definitive outcomes instills confidence in leaders and employees alike and shines a bright light on the DEI path that lays ahead.