October is Global Diversity Awareness Month. For many companies, this presents an opportunity to launch diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, from DEI training programs to policies that address DEI issues in the workplace. Of course, these initiatives can pave the way for a better work environment for all. But launching any corporate DEI initiative should not be done without having a strategic plan in place. While there are many steps a company must take in order to plan and launch a DEI program, here are 3 key steps to creating one that will be a success.
Collect the Data You Need – and Keep On Collecting It
Instinct alone won’t help leaders develop DEI initiatives that the company really needs. I’ve discussed the importance of data-driven DEI training; data is the foundation of the work that we do at Gupta Consulting. It’s crucial to look at all possible metrics, from hiring statistics and retention to surveys of the employees to truly understand how to construct the best possible DEI training program. But what happens after the training ends? Have leaders and employees put what they’ve learned in DEI training sessions to use? How is the organization responding to cultural shifts in and outside of the workplace? Here is where a continued effort to collect and analyze data makes a difference – it can help leaders determine whether additional training is needed, and how corporate policy and procedures can be revised or created to make an actual impact.
Create Measurable and Meaningful Objectives
It can certainly be said that earnest efforts to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace are meaningful in and of themselves. But it’s important to strive for meaningful results in a literal sense. We know, for example, that 60% of employees leave a company due to poor management. Let’s suppose that a company’s exit interviews revealed that a high percentage of high-performing employees left because they felt that the management was not providing equal opportunities to women. Here would be an opportunity to create a measurable and meaningful initiative–an effort to retain and promote high-performing women. Rather than merely offering lip service about being a great place for women to work, the company can back that up through visible action, and has tangible benefits (stemming the loss of top talent to other companies) to show as a result.
Understand that the Work is Hard
This last item admittedly speaks to an attitude rather than a concrete action, but it’s important, even crucial. The example I gave above, launching a program aimed at keeping top-performing women from exiting the company, sounds great…but as many employers have discovered, change is difficult, especially when it requires people to focus on the good of the team rather than their own individual needs. Individuals will be required to assess where they are on their own DEI journey and will need to examine their own biases. Old ways of work, from hiring practices to time spent working in the office, will need to be reassessed and in many cases redefined. And leaders will need to “walk the walk” and champion DEI initiatives, even and especially when their employees are apathetic or resistant. Knowing that any DEI effort will not be easy is crucial to seeing it through.
Leveraging the right data, focusing on tangible goals, and having the fortitude to do the hard work are critical to planning and launching a successful DEI program. But there’s much more to this process. I’m Dr. Sangeeta Gupta, and I founded Gupta Consulting Group to help CDOs and HR leaders create and implement DEI programs that meet their organization’s unique needs.
Schedule a conversation with me today to learn more about our DEI solutions.