Clarkston Consulting
Skip to content

How Strategic Planning Can Take the Guesswork Out of Your DEI Organizational Strategy

As the world becomes more interconnected, the need for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization continues to grow. Fostering an environment that is people-first, and representative of all people; their backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and needs, is a unique challenge for any organization especially when it comes to formulizing a plan for a DEI organizational strategy for your business.

When it comes to DE+I, organizations struggle to develop comprehensive, actionable, and sustainable plans – it can be difficult to create an effective strategy without unbiased expertise. Companies who overcome these obstacles can create a well-defined vision, concrete goals and metrics, and a game plan to achieve success.

Creating a holistic and comprehensive roadmap can take the guesswork out of understanding who your organization is now, who you want it to be, and how to get there. By following a strategic framework, organizations can create and activate their unique DE+I organizational strategy and begin working toward a more inclusive future.

The Must Have Components of a DEI Organizational Strategy Plan


Any successful strategy must begin with a vision for the future and should be unique to the organization, actionable, and insight-driven. Most importantly, a vision should serve as a statement of purpose for your desired DE+I transformation as it will inform all efforts and decisions across your organization for years to come.

Simply stating that you want to be more inclusive isn’t enough. Expressing why you want to be more inclusive and even in what areas you need to improve add a layer of directionality to your vision. Below is a great example from Salesforce on their commitment to equality and their vision for the future

Equality is a core value at Salesforce. We believe that businesses can be powerful platforms for social change and that it is our responsibility to further Equality for All. Creating a culture of Equality isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also the smart thing. It empowers us to innovate, build deeper connections with our customers, and ultimately become a better company.

We strive to create a workplace that reflects the diverse communities around us and where everyone feels seen, heard, valued, and empowered to succeed. Clearly, there is more work to be done, but together we can build a more equal workplace and world for all.

Salesforce emphasizes that equality is a core value that will align all aspects of its business. It also recognizes the power it has as an organization and how it can be leveraged to change the world around it. Salesforce acknowledges its shortcomings but commit to constant improvement. Its vision is unique, actionable, and can be integrated across their organization at all levels.

Guiding Principles:

The next phase of developing a DE+I organizational strategy involves establishing guiding principles. These guiding principles are the guardrails for all organizational transformation and speak to what an organization is willing to change, not willing to change, and what absolutely must change to achieve the agreed upon vision.

For example, if a cosmetics company states that it wants to be inclusive of all skin tones as part of its vision, is it willing to stop selling skin lightening products in other markets? Would a retail chain be willing to reexamine its supply chain to include more Black-owned vendors and businesses? Establishing guiding principles in conjunction with a well-defined vision provide clarity for all levels of an organization and provide structure to support the goals, metrics and tactics in the ultimate roadmap to success.


After establishing a vision and guiding principles, setting goals aligned to the vision and guiding principles is one of the most critical but challenging phases of building a DEI organizational strategy. Setting goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based) can be daunting, but keeping creativity and an open mind at the forefront drives innovation and ultimately a sense of accountability.

If you want to increase gender diversity at your company, you could say “Our goal is to hire 100 women per year”. However, this is not a SMART goal. A way to make that a SMART would be add some additional quantifiers. For example, “By 2025, we want 50% of senior leadership to be women, with a 10% base-level increase per year for the next 5 years,” is a SMART goal. Taking it to the next level ensures that your organization can take the right actions moving forward, and that those actions can be measured.

Metrics and Tactics:

Lastly, developing metrics and tactics to make sure that goals have concrete and measurable actions help determine the success and progress of the goals, and foster the spirit of accountability across the organization.

To continue from the previous example, a tactic to increase gender diversity could be to ensure that a percentage of new hires for roles at all levels must be women. To ensure their success and engagement once entering the organization, another tactic could be to implement women’s leadership incubator that focuses on developing the skills and experiences needed to reach the C-suite. To measure the success of these actions against the goal, setting semi-annual checkpoints and measuring the progress, and setting annual reviews to see where your organization stands relative to the end goal.

The Path Forward: Why it Matters

Ultimately strategic planning allows organizations to establish a roadmap toward a more diverse, equitable and inclusive future. Clarkston’s Enterprise Destination Mapping for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (EDM for DE+I) provides the framework, workshops and unbiased expertise required to drive innovation and transform organizations.

EDM for DE+I creates a people-focused DEI organizational strategy by providing key milestone and timelines, actionable steps and owners, and a careful analysis of risks and mitigation techniques. By focusing on people every step of the way, EDM for DE+I ensures that all backgrounds, perspectives, and voices become part of the future of your organization and facilitates successful adoption and change. Clarkston’s EDM for DE+I methodology can be your first step toward a creating a more equitable organization, workforce and world.

Subscribe to Clarkston's Insights

  • I'm interested in...
  • Clarkston Consulting requests your information to share our research and content with you.

    You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Contributions by Carrie Francis.

Tags: Diversity + Inclusion