In the last two weeks I was asked a few times what I would do in the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) space if I had a blank sheet of paper and I could do anything to move the agenda forward. This is a question I have asked my self more then once so below are my top five thoughts on creating a D&I agenda/Strategy from scratch.
Diversity and Inclusion should be an embedded structure, that has insight and influence into business strategy, HR (Talent, Recruitment, Employee Relations,) Marketing, Sales, PR, and Supply Chain it should be explored as a change program that will take a number of years, as we shifting societal issues in the framework of a business.
Doing this work locally and globally are two different things and you will have different results and outcomes. So globally to embed this agenda you should set a clear and definitive narrative that includes everyone that works in your business. Example you notice you do not have enough senior women in leadership roles. Explore how that impacts both genders, what has the business always done that means that women are being excluded, but what do the men need to change also to change the culture overall. If you launch a targeted program, make sure that men are engaged and understand they have skin in the game/ are owners of outcomes. As nothing major will change only speak to the women
I have observed that a good global strategy has five components
1. A clear understanding of the business case
How does Diversity and Inclusion apply to your business. Culture, Staff Retention, Brand Position, Innovation etc this needs to be defined and clear, so your employees understand and can speak to it. Also, your customers too can see it and understand, how you have this woven into your DNA. The right thing to do is not good enough, you need to make your business case personal to your organisation.
2. Set Direction/Goals
A lot of time people are worried about quotas; affirmative action plans and I always say if you do not know where you are going what is the point? When I say set goals, they do not have to be made public, beyond the Senior leadership but they could be several things.
- By 2025 we want to represent our customers and society throughout our business.
- All our employees will be able to articulate or D&I strategy and how it applies to our customers, staff retention, Brand position and how we innovate.
- We will have a culture of high performing teams that trust.
All the above statement s mean you will have to explore Gender, Disability, Race, LGBT, Generations, and intersectional identities in how you embed your strategy.
3. Build the interventions
That could consist of targeted programming, it could consist of narrative building for all. But any interventions built need to be built on a foundation of transparency. I have development a number of projects focused on different communities, however I always tried to remain transparent in what we were doing from internal blast to speaking at leadership conferences we took the data and the story to the business. As again nothing will change if people don’t understand the impact of their actions.
4. Tell your story
As you start to explore your culture you need to tell the story internally, where did the business start, what are you working towards, what direction have you set. How does that align to the business & employee base? A lot of the time D&I is in a HR/CSR bubble and if you chose to opt out of the conversation as an employee you can. My thought process for us to see quicker results and more change we need everyone to engage and understand what the vision and agenda is, so it needs to be discussed, measured and fundamental to performance and culture.
5. Celebrate success and learning
You then need to celebrate your success, so if you have managed to change some policies or have set a clear messaging around flexible working or you have launched new employee networks these need to me promoted and celebrated. Also recognise where you did not get it right if you submit for benchmarks and you didn’t achieve the rating you wanted tell everyone in the business and why it didn’t work. Again, transparency is key.
This takes us back to understanding the business case and why you are undertaking this work in the first place as this work is a circle that you have to continue to update and adapt and align to business goals and outcomes, and overall business culture. Then you move into localising this work so each location needs to define how they will take the global goals/direction and localise it, this is where you might need a bigger team then three to four D&I professional and or people doing dual roles. You then need to think about how you structure local activity. I have worked in structures where site leaders owned the communications/ HR owned implementation and local employee networks own activation.
Whatever your vision the outcome should be a change in culture, representation across the business and a clear understanding of what D&I means to your business in relation to, talent, sales, supply chain, marketing and branding.