A successful diversity and inclusive program has many moving parts, so it’s important to make sure all the parts are operating at full capacity. And like a high-performance sports car, the D&I program must run on all cylinders.
Diversity programs are often initiated in the human resources department for many reasons. For example, the organization wants to hire a more diverse staff or managers have been ordered to be trained as part of a legal settlement. There is nothing wrong with that.
But if a D&I program starts in HR and stays in HR it will die in HR.
Organizations should take an integrated approach to D&I in order to gain maximum, high-impact and sustainable results internally as well as with external stakeholders. They need to be running on Six Cylinders™ to develop, implement and successfully manage their diversity and inclusion initiatives.
The six drivers or Cylinders of Diversity and Inclusion are:
Leadership: What messages are leaders sending to their staff and external stakeholders about diversity and inclusion? Are the messages consistent? Do the leaders share a common vision about how diversity, inclusion and intercultural competence benefit the organization?
Products/Services: The nature of the products and/or services that the organization provides and the extent to which products and services deliver high value to fulfill the needs of a diverse set of potential customers and clients.
Human Capital: Hiring managers must revise their practices to recruit the best person for the job, not just the best person in their network, or the candidate with whom they feel most comfortable. Similarly, when awarding contracts, access to a diverse supplier base allows organizations to choose the very best at the right price.
Workplace Environment: Workplace policies and behaviours can nurture a D&I program or quash it. For example, attitudes towards newcomers or people who hold different opinions will show whether a workplace genuinely welcomes difference.
Stakeholder Connections: How well does the organization know its community? Where does the organization make its community investments? Does the community know, trust and respect the organization? In a diverse community, the answers to these questions can help the organization’s public image and decide how it is perceived by businesses, non-profits, regulators, or potential donors.
Marketing: How an organization communicates – and where – helps to establish its public image and can signal to potential supporters and organizational partners whether the organization values diversity.
The ultimate test of success in any D&I program is how the “client”(customers or employees) experiences the organization.
If organizational leaders aren’t seeing the results they expect, chances are one or more of the cylinders are not working and steps must be taken to activate those parts of the program. Soon, the program will be humming along like a well-oiled, efficient and effective machine.