Developing a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion in any organization takes time, effort and a willingness to “lean into discomforts.” Here are a few things to do to ensure success:
Have a strategic human resource management plan.
- Do you know how you will ensure that the right talent is in the right jobs at the right time in order to achieve your business strategy in the short-, medium and long-terms?
Consider the role that diversity will play in your plan.
- The labour force is more diverse than it has ever been, and that diversity will continue to increase.
- Do you know how your organization will attract the best talent from all the different groups in the contemporary labour force?
Consider the skills your workforce needs to be effective in the contemporary diverse environment.
- Do your employees have the intercultural skills needed to interact effectively with a diverse customer base?
- Do you know how to develop the managerial and interpersonal skills your workforce needs to work effectively across differences?
Create a people management system that supports the valuing of diversity.
- Do you know what your hiring and retention rates are by demographic group?
- Do you know your employees’ career goals?
- Have you helped your employees develop career plans within the context of your organization?
- Do you conduct exit interviews so that you know why people leave?
- Have you conducted succession planning?
- Have you identified a cohort of high potential employees?
- Is that cohort diverse, to provide you with a feeder pool to top management?
Develop a supportive climate for diversity of opinion and viewpoint.
- One mistake companies make is to bring a diverse set of bodies in the door without welcoming the diverse set of ideas and viewpoints those bodies bring with them. (Cognitive Diversity: How individuals process information)
- How comfortable are your people with disagreements in team meetings?
- How often do people speak up against the majority opinion?
- A climate for diversity requires that organizational members become comfortable with sharing different viewpoints and learn not to be defensive in the face of differences of opinion.
Build support among top leaders.
- Without clear and frequent supportive communication from top management and a willingness on their part to hold the organization accountable for diversity, your progress will be limited.
Build skills among supervisors and middle managers.
- Have your managers received training on people management skills?
- Does that training include examples and situations where managers can practice working across differences?
Hold managers accountable for effectiveness in managing diversity.
• Are your managers appraised on effectiveness in managing diversity?
• Are they rewarded for it?
- Does your organization provide employees with opportunities to meet each other in social situations with their families?
- Are your organizational events comfortable and inviting for people with different food requirements, accessibility needs, and personal interests?
Create a support system for members of identity groups that are in the numerical minority.
- Mentoring programs or buddy systems provide people with guidance on the tacit information on how to succeed in your organization.
- Employee Affinity groups provide a support network and a sounding board for people to obtain advice from their own cultural standpoint on how to be effective in the organization.
Take an integrated approach
- Diversity and Inclusion is not only an HR “problem” ; hiring for representation.
- Have you considered the other areas within the organization that would benefit? – Products/Services, Marketing, Stakeholder/Community Connections, Workplace Culture, Leadership Behaviours, Human Capital
- Are you regularly measuring how your employees and clients/customers are experiencing your organization?