As the world around us continues to change, companies are more focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion than ever before. The Black Lives Matter movement, the consequences of extended virtual work, and the shifting generational makeup of the workforce have created a unique opportunity for organizations to create sustainable change, and a more inclusive culture.
Clarkston Consulting Diversity Chair Brandon Miller recently hosted a webinar for leaders looking to incorporate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into their organizations’ DNA. By doing so, organizations can create a framework that allows for proactive responses to societal change and more equitable environment for every member in their workforce.
During his webinar, Brandon focused on two key themes that can help leadership better understand DE+I in order to implement it into every facet of their organizations:
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is more than race, gender, sexual orientation and age
- How to incorporate and elevate these elements into your organization
What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?
The first thing people do when they hear DE+I, or just D+I, is lump all the individual components and their meanings into one diversity concept. For many, “Diversity” is synonymous with race, gender, age or sexual orientation. It goes without saying that these are all valuable markers for diversity, but the root of diversity, equity and inclusion goes beyond these buzzwords.
True diversity should home in on the expression and representation of difference and encompass both inherent and acquired traits. For example, race and gender are inherent traits that you are born with. If you take diversity a step further, job experience, workplace tenure and areas of expertise are acquired traits that should be considered when building a diversity framework.
Like diversity, equity goes beyond equality. Equity is looking at the fairness and justice of processes and ultimately at the outcomes. Equity typically comes up in the context of compensation, and talent management. While pay equity is critical, providing equitable opportunities for training and development, as well as in recruiting processes is also critical to providing an equitable workplace.
Lastly, inclusion is not just inviting people into rooms and spaces to meet a quota. Inclusion is ensuring that all employees feel valued, feel heard and respected in the workplace. It supports the idea that employees have their own autonomy and ownership of their roles and development within the organization, and that the things that make them different are celebrated and not simply tolerated. Inclusion is one of the more difficult aspects of DE+I to correct, because it is a feeling and subjective. In the next part of the webinar, Brandon went into further detail about how to track, measure and apply learnings while implementing a DE+I strategy.
How Can You Start to Incorporate or Elevate These Concepts into Your Organization?
There are 4 steps required to begin a sustainable DE+I transformation. The simplest way to remember these steps is to remember the 4 A’s:
- Awareness: How do I know something needs to be done
- Action: What specifically should I do?
- Authority: Who should do it?
- Accountability: How do I make sure it gets done?
Before diving into goals and action items, it is critical to understand the current landscape of your organization, and the internal and external factors that affect the people within it.
- Externally controlled: Cycle driven (expected) external factors
- External: Unplanned external factors
- Internal: Company specific factors
- Internal: Team specific factors
Now that your organization has identified opportunities for elevation, it is time to develop an actionable strategy. Having a centralized DE+I strategy is key to maintaining consistency across all areas and functions of your organization, but decentralizing the implementation creates a sense of ownership outside of senior leadership. The DE+I strategy your organization develops will ultimately touch every member of your organization regardless of seniority or tenure; ensure that everyone knows that they have a role to play. Below are some examples of how different roles and functions within your organization can take a decentralized approach to centralized action.
For many people, the word authority is synonymous with authoritarian, rather than authoritative. The former evokes feelings of condescension, while the latter suggests trusted expertise. To successfully implement a sustainable DE+I strategy, leadership must exemplify the latter. To demonstrate expertise in DE+I, it is critical to treat initiatives like all other business initiatives when it comes to tracking, performance, and accountability.
Finally comes accountability, because what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed. Treating DE+I like all other business initiatives will help drive the success of your action plan. Make sure that there are metrics and teams in place to review the plan on a consistent basis. The outcomes of these reviews should be incorporated into CSR and annual reporting. The feedback from these reviews can ultimately help inform future of your organization, so effective tracking is key.
If you believe it’s your responsibility to move the needle when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion at your organization, you’re right. We all have a role to play in creating equitable spaces and driving accountability. Whether it is through leveraging people analytics and our organizational-wide diversity survey, implementing unconscious bias training, or advisory, Clarkston is here to help.
Contributions by Nicole Wilkinson