Author: Laura Morrison
When investing in a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy for your organization, you want to make sure that what you’re doing is going to produce meaningful results. Developing the right plan for your team is a complex and nuanced process, but there are 6 pillars every DEI strategy needs.
1. Know the Timeline
The first key to success is knowing that addressing DEI is not a one-time event, but an ongoing practice. When developing a DEI plan for your organization, think about what it will look like over the course of an entire year. One-time actions, such as an event or workshop, can be helpful tools when used in conjunction with other efforts. For example, a one-time action may be used to launch your DEI strategy, or the DEI plan best suited for you may be a series of small actions. No matter what route you choose, be aware that addressing DEI in your organization is never just a one-time event.
2. A Solid Foundation
Each community of individuals is different. People come to DEI conversations with their own understanding, expectations, experiences, and unique concerns. Because of this, there is no “one size fits all” approach to meaningful DEI work. Your strategy has to be rooted in solid foundational knowledge of your team and their needs. Some questions to explore understanding for might be:
- How do employees conceptualize those in positions of leadership?
- Are your DEI expectations and responsibilities clear and well understood?
- Do team members know what actions to take should they have a DEI problem?
- Do employees have faith that leaders will take action if an issue is reported to them?
- Is your organization advancing people from a variety of backgrounds?
- What identities are present in your workplace and how might their experiences at work be different?
By getting a clear understanding of where your team is at right now, you can develop a truly effective plan moving forward.
Whether you’re a people leader or a DEI specialist, you don’t need to know it all. It can be a good idea to supplement your own knowledge with outside resources. Having additional support – advisors, toolkits, policy templates – when crafting your DEI strategy can simplify and streamline your work, save you valuable time, and provide a third party perspective. It also ensures you have someone supporting you as you make tough decisions.
4. Clear Communication
Open and ongoing communication between supervisors, managers, people leaders, and other employees is critical in building the organizational culture that supports diversity and equity. You should be able to articulate responses to questions like:
- Why did you structure your strategy the way you did?
- What needs are your organization focusing on and why?
- How can employees be involved in DEI conversations that they care about?
- What can employees expect moving forward?
Sharing this information across your organization helps all team members understand the importance of the work you’re doing. Knowing the “why” and the “how” of your DEI strategy can strengthen employee engagement leading to long term DEI success.
To grow and evolve together, it’s important that your team is on the same page. Because people come from different backgrounds with different lived experiences, some employees may have a robust knowledge of DEI topics, whereas others may be learning about something for the first time. This is where having a solid foundation becomes evermore important. Your initial evaluation is critical to understand where your team should start in their DEI learning. To develop a common understanding, it is important to provide educational opportunities on an ongoing basis for all members of your team. Engaging in education and reflection as a group can not only strengthen individual understandings, but also allow for meaningful group discussions and cultural shifts. These ongoing educational resources can take the form of formal or informal workshops, group activities, microlearning, and more.
6. Ongoing Evaluation
In order to know if your DEI actions are having the desired impact, you need to track the factors that are most important for your organization. Using the data you collected at the beginning of your DEI journey as a baseline, routinely follow up with employees through anonymous surveys and focus groups to measure your progress. DEI is not a linear journey, and your employees’ needs will continue to change in response to your workplace, your DEI efforts, and changes in society. Ongoing evaluation ensures that your efforts match your employees’ changing needs and provides you with the data you need to measure the return on those efforts.
At Lunaria, we know that the prospect of developing a DEI plan can be overwhelming. After all, who has time to develop a year-long, company-wide strategy? Our tools and services make the process as easy and painless as possible. From the initial audit, to the development of policies, to employee education, all the way through to tracking and analyzing your progress (and making recommendations based on what we find!), we’re here to support you from start to finish.
If you’re already a DEI superstar who just needs a little extra support, we’re here for you too! Book a free Support Session with us today. We’re excited to help you and your team flourish.