Diversity has been a topic of several of my past blogs; Understanding Diversity & Inclusion, Developing A Mentorship Initiative, Building Organizational Diversity: Identifying Mentors, and Building Organizational Diversity: Mentee Success. This topic is continuing to be at the forefront of many executive meetings as they look for ways to incorporate more diversity into every level of their organizations.
Why is diversity important now? Diversity comes in many areas such as race, gender, age, culture, nationality, etc. which give people different perspectives. Employee diversity can generate an atmosphere that offers unique viewpoints, open-minded creativity, and innovation which can help drive bottom-line results. The old saying goes, “an organization’s strongest asset is its employees,” so it only makes sense to tap into the richness of this vital resource through cultivating a more diverse workforce.
Currently, many organizations are creating internal diversity initiatives, undoubtedly many of these initiatives will fail. This failure is often due to lack of commitment by management, failure to plan the initiative, or other initiatives taking priorities. Here is a seven-step process to help ensure the success of your diversity initiative.
- Establish Purpose and Get Buy-in From Organizational Leadership for the Initiative. In order for any change initiative to succeed, there must first be an overarching purpose as to why it is important to the organization. This might be the topic of an employee summit or your next executive retreat. Create a “Purpose Statement” to describe the overarching reason that the initiative exists, the impact it will have on the organization, as well as how every employee should behave. Make sure to get a commitment from every level of leadership within the organization. Each department must agree that the purpose of the diversity initiative is a priority for the organization.
- Set Goals for the Initiative. Any initiative without a quantifiable goal is impossible to manage. Set goals for the initiative so that it can be measured and evaluated. Make sure that they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based (S.M.A.R.T.).
- Map Out the Initiative. Many organizational initiatives fail because of a lack of careful, thorough planning. Create a step-by-step plan on how to implement the initiative across the organization. The plan should guide leaders to prioritize the initiative over siloed objectives. It can also give a framework for collaboration across departments and provide a structure for making trade-offs when departmental objectives conflict. Also, consider the impact the initiative will have on departments and what types of training and support might be needed by those affected. This step in the process may determine the ultimate success or failure of your diversity initiative.
- Set Checkpoints. Make sure as you map out the diversity plan, you create checkpoints. These checkpoints could be benchmarks or timetables within teams, departments, or divisions that can be evaluated as the initiative is rolled out.
- Implement the Initiative. Announce the launch of the diversity initiative and promote the anticipated benefits. It is critical in this step of the process to maintain open, honest lines of communication between all managers, departments, and employees.
- Evaluate the Initiative. Review the checkpoints set up prior to the implementation of the diversity initiative. Monitoring the checkpoints and reviewing the plan will reveal whether the initial plan is progressing as anticipated and delivering the desired results.
- Embrace or Modify the Initiative. Once the diversity initiative is evaluated it can then be determined if it has met the anticipated goals set for the initiative. If the goals are met, then the diversity initiative is embraced and part of the “new” organizational norm. If the initiative goals are not met, then engage key individuals to determine modifications that may need to be made. Change the plan and reimplement the modified strategy. Keep checking the progress of the initiative, and if necessary, make modifications until anticipated goals are achieved.
Employee diversity is a critical resource that provides organizations a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced business environment. Create a diversity initiative using the “Seven Steps of Success” to ensure your organization stands the test of time.
Interested in learning more, join us for a complimentary 1-hour webinar, Understanding Diversity & Inclusion, on December 2, 2020, at 9:00 AM.