So you’re looking to implement – or revive – a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative for your organization. First things first: Do you have a clear understanding of why you’re doing it and what you’re trying to accomplish?
Workplace culture consultant, executive advisor on diversity strategies and founder of Rework Work Stacey Gordon offered this example of why DEI can hit a dead end because of an undefined purpose. “You’re thinking gender diversity, I’m thinking overall diversity (and another executive is) thinking we want racial diversity. And then we go off and we tell our recruitment team what we’re looking for, and they come back with something completely different,” she said in an episode of the HRMorning podcast “Voices of HR.”
“If you don’t have a good ‘why,’ every time that the resources dry up, you go, ‘What was this initiative? Why are we doing this?'” Gordon said.
Driving DEI progress
Gordon shared several tips for HR pros looking to shift mindsets and make a positive difference.
Have candid conversations with the CEO. HR needs to flex its rapport with the CEO and articulate the business case for DEI, specific goals and a proposed plan to get there. “We’ve all heard the generic statistics – 40% increase in productivity. … ‘Really? For our organization? In what way?’ Well, how is that going to translate? We really have to be able to translate that down to your specific business and what that’s going to look like,” she said.
Use data (and analyze it from different employee demographic perspectives) to drive decision-making. Collect and analyze data to assess the current state of DEI within the organization. This data can then be used to develop targeted initiatives to address specific areas of need. For instance, are women and people of color given adequate consideration for advancement? Another example: Are there biases in the process for who gets recommended for a performance improvement plan?
“Everyone’s sick of surveys, I get it. But again, they’re sick of surveys because, ask yourself, what have you done with the data? The last time that you did a survey, what did you do with that information? Who did you tell about it? What was the transparency in communication and what action came from it?” Gordon said.
“You also need to be able to say, once you do this, ‘We’re going to come back to you and let you know the results of it. And then we’re going to actually do something based upon the results of it. And we’re going to let you know what we’ve done based upon the results.’ Because sometimes companies will do something (and) people don’t know about it; they have no clue. They’re like, ‘Our company did that? Really? I had no idea.’”
Get buy-in from key stakeholders. Building support for DEI initiatives across the organization can be accomplished through listening circles, workshops, a suggestion box and other communication efforts.
Voices of HR host Berta Aldrich commented, “The approach matters. And so when HR thinks about how they’re going to craft their message and get the right data and be credible at the table to initiate this type of change within their organization, it has to come from a positive but real standpoint.”