Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a hot topic. Despite numerous trainings, programs, and initiatives, organizations continue to struggle to drive significant impact. Research tells us that stand-alone DEI training sessions drive awareness but don’t deliver impact. DEI programs are frequently one-off pilots that aren’t scaled across an organization. Often, I hear leaders say that they want to improve the diversity of their leadership team, but they lack qualified candidates in the pipeline. With so many good intentions, why are so many organizations failing to deliver on diversity? The short answer is that we need to build more inclusive and equitable cultures so that all stakeholders can be authentic, contribute and thrive within their organizations, Creating a culture for diversity requires a Transformational DEI Strategy.
In order to build a Transformational DEI Strategy, it is imperative to identify where your organization is on the DEI Maturity Continuum. Many organizations are in the Compliance Stage with initiatives lead by the Legal Team and HR to meet federal, state, and local compliance and reporting requirement such as EEO, sexual harassment training, and pay equity. Projects and activities in Compliance focus on training, data gathering, reporting, and analysis. It is a good beginning but initiatives tend to be siloed and lack strategic alignment so they can quickly wither on the vine.
As an organization moves to the Foundation Stage, the impact begins to impact more broadly. The group of stakeholders expands to include C-suite leadership and dedicated teams such as a DEI group. A key to the change is senior leadership support and focus on goal setting for identified groups such as female representation and opportunity across the organization. The business case for risk mitigation and opportunity creation begins to be formulated. Metrics to measure progress are introduced. Programs and education on topics such as Unconscious Bias and Social Dominance promote greater awareness of the prevalence of bias in all of us and the steps to begin to reframe assumptions, decision making, and opportunity identification. Most projects remain siloed or pilots. In terms of culture change, this state represents a significant change in the perception of DEI programs and their value in business strategy from a senior leadership perspective.
As organizations reach the Developing Stage, the stakeholder group expands further to include senior and middle managers. DEI is a strategic priority and it is reflected in leadership goals and tied to their performance compensation. The talent process is redefined in terms of recruitment, development, and promotion to remove barriers and to promote opportunities. Training is provided to all managers to promote and create a more inclusive culture. Management focus is on creating a more inclusive environment at all levels of the organization.
At the Integrated Stage, the DEI strategy is fully integrated into business strategy. It is reflected in organizational culture and evident in in their people, process, and policy. Relationships with external stakeholders including, suppliers, partners, industry groups and communities are also evaluated through a DEI lens. All levels of the organization embrace DEI as the norm and model it in their actions and behaviors. Once reaching this stage, an organization should reflect its community and customers. Employees are ambassadors for the organization promoting its values and making it an employer of choice.
Driving impactful DEI change takes time, talent, and resources. At each stage of the DEI Maturity Continuum, an organization bolsters its culture, processes, and policies to better address DEI challenges. If we can be helpful as your organization embarks on its own DEI journey, please reach out to Kris@HRComputes.com.