DEI FOCUS ON FOUR: 4 Ways to Advance Beyond Making a Statement and Forming another Committee
When businesses decide to embark upon a diversity and inclusion process, they seem to take a familiar path. They begin by making a statement of their intent, followed by establishing a committee, and then many initiatives lose steam and become one of those things we “tried” once.
Let’s not have your DEI initiative be one of those things we tried once… and failed. Years ago, you could create a strong statement and call it done; however, those days are over.
Committees are fraught with their own challenges, which can be avoided by providing direction and letting them get to work. However, over the past couple of years, what we’ve witnessed is a movement for DEI initiatives to do more and do it better.
Many companies lean toward providing professional development for their workforce around topics of diversity and inclusion. Recently, Harvard found the best diversity training includes both perspective training and personal goal setting. Working with a seasoned DEI trainer will ensure your training dollars are well invested. A few things we typically request before we create customized training for our clients include:
- Understanding how the company has addressed DEI in the past, what was successful and what was painful?
- Understanding what success looks like? Is this a launching-off point? Will they be using this training for a specific purpose?
- Any hazards that should be mentioned.
Providing this information and having a frank conversation will set you up for success. Also, understanding the trainer’s perspective. For example, at Write Connections, we focus on creating a positive experience where participants feel empowered and supported. We know these topics can be uncomfortable and even scary to some, but allowing everyone to bring their own experiences to the training and build together is what makes DEI work powerful and effective.
Internal Goal Setting
Leadership needs to consider what internal goals they wish their DEI initiative to accomplish. For example, could it be an increase in their diverse workforce, an increase in retention for non-white employees, or a more equitable upward mobility movement among their team? Because the area surrounding DEI is vast, it’s essential for leadership to determine the goal of their initiative and who will benefit.
Just because DEI looks like the place you “should” be focused on doesn’t always mean your ready to make that leap. It can be more discouraging to leap when you shouldn’t. Some companies are just not ready internally or externally to put a DEI stake in the ground. This does not mean they can’t up their efforts in preparing to enter the game. Perhaps they exist in a homogeneous community, and diversity isn’t immediately apparent. Or they have a history of practices that launching into a public DEI campaign would cause hurt and damage. Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should, but even if you don’t, you can move forward.
Having a strategy will help your team be consistent in messaging. Mapping out how your company will respond to issues around DEI before you have a media request or issue is imperative. Also, having a solid understanding of which social issues you will comment on and what holidays/months you will show support will help you avoid pitfalls and support your overall initiative.
Write Connections | strategy + design, LLC. helps companies and nonprofits create their DEI strategies, train their teams, and provide the impact they desire.