Getting Started on Your Diversity and Inclusion Initiative

Many companies are interested in diversity and inclusion initiatives, but struggle with the best way to get started. Several factors contribute that ultimately lead to a failed-to-launch initiatives.

  • Is there executive sponsorship?
  • Is there buy-in to address diversity and inclusion at the leadership level?
  • Does the leadership believe diversity and inclusion makes the organization stronger and aligns with the company’s goals?
  • Are meaningful incentives rolled out into the organization?

There are a lot of resources to help address these issues, but in this article, we’re assuming your organization has already decided to get started, so where to begin?

Know Your Why

“Knowing why your organization cares about diversity and inclusion and how it aligns with your company’s values and goals is the first place to start.”

Jiquanda Nelson, the Global Diversity Officer at Concentrix

Knowing your why involves examining your values. What core values does your business believe in, especially when it comes to your people. What do you want your team, customers, and vendors to know about your commitment to diversity and inclusion? Going through this exercise and creating a mission statement is the first step. To create a diversity and inclusion mission statement, see Create a Diversity and Inclusion Mission Statement.

An important question to consider:
How will diversity and inclusion initiatives help you focus to attain your business goals? Think of things like retention, recruiting, diversity of ideas adding to business value and better product, etc…

Review your data, work to get more

Many organizations already have their EEO-1 Survey data as it is required if you’re over 100 employees. If you don’t already collect EEO-1 data, you can use tools like Diversity Window to help with that process. Once you’ve verified that your data is collected, start to examine the information and make it visible to leadership in the organization.
Once you’ve seen your data, it’s much easier to decide your initial goals as you may notice something obvious in your data.

Another thing to consider is broadening your diversity and inclusion data after you’ve baselined. EE0-1 is only diversity data and doesn’t collect inclusion information. Inclusion data includes concepts like sense of belonging and access to opportunity. Diversity and inclusion assessments help collect this data in a standardized way.

Creating a broader picture on inclusion, diversity, and employee satisfaction can add tremendous value to the business.

Build a Team or Committee

It’s common to establish a team or committee of people in the organization that are passionate about these initiatives. Establish a committee, with at least one executive sponsor involved, and solicit their feedback along the way. Helping create mission statements, drive initiatives into the organization, and ideate on how to create a stronger sense of belonging.

Communication to the Organization

It’s always good to communicate and create transparency and a sense of authenticity. Start by letting your organization know you’re launching a diversity and inclusion initiative. Invite team members to collaborate. Provide regular updates separately or as part of existing communication. After formulating your mission statement, reviewing your data, and establishing short term goals, share your overarching vision and first steps with the company. Encourage involvement and feedback from your team.

Recognize the Existing Work

There is likely existing work established to address D&I issues in your company. It’s great to recognize and celebrate this work and recognize existing diversity and inclusion efforts in the company. Often new initiatives are positioned as building on top of existing efforts. This recognizes the people already trying to make movement in these areas.

Identify the gaps/barriers, what and who are missing?

In considering new initiatives, use your data and feedback from the team to identify gaps and barriers. Whether you notice a trend of women not moving into leadership roles or that a certain team’s sense of belonging is meaningfully low, identifying root causes and affected team members are critical.

It’s a Process

Don’t get discouraged or try to change your organization overnight. A diversity and inclusion initiative is a process that will shift and evolve over time in your company. Take things one step at a time and celebrate your accomplishments.