There is no question about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and its role in building a welcoming and secure work environment for all. Having an active commitment to DEI is appealing to prospective employees and clients alike, and proactively pursuing DEI initiatives helps to show an intentional focus on making a change.
Accomplishing this means we must dig deeper and evaluate the effectiveness of current DEI programs and policies. Importantly, we must be open to questioning why there may be barriers to achieving certain goals and how we can be part of the solution.
Evaluate why DEI challenges are present
In working with and coaching executive teams, I have noticed a trend when it comes to DEI – many leaders support diversity and want to promote inclusion and equity throughout their organization; however, few are willing to take the actions needed to drive real change.
When discussing DEI, I often hear “We want to hire and promote diverse candidates, but there are no qualified individuals.” When I hear statements like this, I can tell the conversation has reached a roadblock, and to many, this justifies that they should move on from problems that do not have easy solutions. However, achieving DEI requires us to shift our perspective and dig deeper to identify the root of the problem, instead of taking issues at face value. We must question why we are facing certain challenges to uncover insights we may not have previously considered.
For example, when it comes to recruitment, we can begin by asking: “WHY is my organization unable to find qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds?” We must also strive to achieve DEI at all levels, so when it comes to advancement, we should ask “WHY are the diverse employees in our organization seemingly unqualified for promotions?”
Ask how we can achieve real change
After asking “why”, we need to ask “how.” HOW can DEI challenges be addressed so we do not have to face the same barriers in the future? HOW can we take ownership and implement effective solutions?
These solutions should be approached with a long-term plan – not reactive short-sighted initiatives. We need to take ownership and encourage new ways of thinking to introduce solutions that have not been used in the past.
Asking “how” requires creative problem solving and building more intentional and focused DEI plans. For example, companies might partner with universities to promote diversity in recruiting, launch an internal talent pipeline to support diverse advancement opportunities, or create an Employee Led Resource Group to lead DEI efforts within the organization.
Once you have thought about “why” and “how,” it is important to implement metrics for tracking diversity across the company and to assess whether DEI efforts have been successful. To make meaningful strides in DEI, organizations must question current practices, commit to being part of the solution and invest in, and continually track a long-term strategy that involves real transformation from recruitment to leadership.
Dima Ghawi is the founder of a global talent development company with a primary mission for advancing individuals in leadership. Through keynote speeches, training programs and executive coaching, Dima has empowered thousands of professionals across the globe to expand their leadership potential. Reach her at DimaGhawi.com and BreakingVases.com.