For DEI Success, Do This, Not That In 2023

3 min read | Diane Coffey Chaput

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In a recent Forbes article, Leading NOW’s CEO, Kelly Primus, addressed the DEI Churn & Burn many organizations are experiencing in their quest to create a more inclusive culture. In the article, Kelly talks about some of the things organizations can do to stop the constant turnover of Chief Diversity Officers who are in the trenches, trying to transform the company’s culture. 

This got us thinking, and begs the question – Is your DEI strategy passive or POWERFUL?

For 2023, we’re kicking off the new year with a monthly blog series titled, DO THIS, NOT THAT. Each month we’ll address common actions that most DEI strategies include (passive), the barriers to inclusion identified by our own research over the last 20 years, and the what, why, and how, to make your DEI strategy more powerful. 

Let’s start with the most important DEI barrier of all…

The Barrier: 

DEI has not been elevated to a Business Initiative. When an organization adopts a strategic business initiative, it has an executive responsible for it, a budget assigned to it, and measurements instituted that they have to meet. If your organization hasn’t made DEI a business initiative and instead has relegated it to ERG (Employee Resource Group) status, you won’t get the results you’re looking for in your culture journey. 

To help solve for this barrier…

 

Do This, Not That: 

DO hire/promote an experienced talent management person into a CDO (Chief Diversity Officer), or head of DEI role. 

DO NOT hire/promote unqualified people of an underrepresented population just to fill an opening for optics. Make sure they have a background in talent management and the experience to back it up. You wouldn't hire someone without financial acumen for the job of CFO, would you?

 

DO keep the leadership team involved. True culture transformation is controlled by senior leadership, and unless you change the mindsets of leaders to be supportive in the culture journey, these efforts are bound to fail.

DO NOT expect one person to fix the problem. Your CDO needs leadership support to implement a realistic plan to reach the organization’s goals. 

 

DO give your CDO the funding and resources they need to do the job you hired them to do. Support them in the use of an assessment or software platform that tracks how employees feel about their engagement in the organization. 

DO NOT expect the CDO to immediately identify what problems need to be solved. It takes time to assess, address, and implement appropriate solutions. 

 

In short, one of the biggest mistakes many organizations make is creating ERGs to implement feel-good activities to make employees happy. And while these actions may provide a momentary “buzz”, these passive kinds of activities become a blip on the happiness meter. It’s simply not enough. The takeaway here is that a CDO who has the support of leadership, and the tools, budget and resources, will achieve the organization’s DEI goals.

Start with an assessment to find out what is going on in your organization’s culture. Our Inclusive Culture Assessment (ICA) will put you on the right track to understanding how your employees experience the organization, and our monthly DO THIS, NOT THAT tips will help you stay on course for building a culture of inclusion. #WeCanHelp.

 

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