It feels as if overnight, the focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has shifted from being a “nice to have” to an essential part of an organization’s reputation and brand. While it is positive that there is a significant newfound focus on this area, some are rushing to be part of this emerging wave without a clear plan. Below are three key elements to include while developing a DEI strategy in order to ensure that your focus is intentional and effective.
1. Understand Your Organization’s Current State:
Before you enact a DEI strategy, you should have a clear understanding of your starting point by identifying employee diversity across the organization. Start by compiling and analyzing the percentages of minority employees at the entry, management, and executive levels. Even if you feel your company has good diversity, a common issue many notice is that most of that diversity is at the bottom of the chain compared to senior levels. It is important to continue periodically tracking progress as it enables your executive team to understand the organization’s current state, highlight gaps, develop targets.
While numbers are telling, an important method for understanding how DEI is perceived at your organization is to gather employees’ thoughts of the overall organization, their leadership team, and supervisor’s commitment to DEI through surveys and focus groups. Listening to your employees is crucial for getting a pulse on their experiences and for learning from your team about the DEI initiatives that they value.
2. Create a Leadership Talent Pipeline:
Frequently executives express the difficulty in finding well-qualified, diverse candidates for leadership roles. To alleviate this issue, I advise developing a leadership talent pipeline that plans the development and promotion of highly talented and diverse employees over ten years. Over a planning session, identify employees with future leadership potential and ensure they are diverse candidates. Then, document a talent development plan for each that includes targeted training, coaching, job rotations, performance reviews and potential promotion schedules in two-year increments for the next ten years. After this initial planning, periodically review and amend this pipeline throughout the years as candidates progress.
3. Encourage Discussions and Learning Related DEI Topics:
In order to harness the full advantages of diversity, you must build a culture of inclusion and belonging within your team. One method is to establish internal Employee Networks. These are employee-led groups that center around individuals who share characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, interest, or other defining criteria. These networks seek to increase inclusion by planning activities that promote DEI discussions. Additionally, they also provide mentorship, encourage skill development, and create a sense of community for their members and allies. For these groups to be effective, it is essential for the executive team to show their support, provide funding, truly listen to these networks, and include the employee networks as part of the organization’s DEI strategy.
With a genuine and intentional focus on DEI, not only do organizations create a healthier work culture, but they will have positive impacts on their employees’ personally by encouraging them to value the differences in others and have an inclusive mindset. This will result in a ripple effect that creates a healthier community.
Learn more about Dima Ghawi’s DEI Strategy and Training.
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.