Diversity and inclusion is a hot topic that every business is dealing with at some level. The data on the subject is sobering and truly emphasizes the need for every company to embrace diversity and create an inclusive environment.
But despite the presumption that diverse companies function better than homogeneous ones, most organizations continue to employ antiquated diversity models that only address symptoms of inequality rather than the cause.
While some organizations have tried to overhaul their outdated processes, most of them have failed to create sustainable change over the long term. This is partly because their targets and objectives are often misguided. As a result, their goals rarely (if ever) materialize.
To discover what goes into setting the right DE&I goals, keep reading.
Challenges that arise when planning DE&I goals
Here are a few common challenges that teams face when planning diversity and inclusion goals.
Setting too high or too low of a goal.
When setting goals, it’s important to strike that delicate balance between specificity and ease of development. If your objectives are too simple, they won’t have much impact. On the other hand, employees will become frustrated and demotivated if the goals are overly stringent.
To set successful realistic goals, you need to be specific about your intentions. Ideally, they should be ambitious enough to challenge your team yet attainable enough to give them a sense of accomplishment when they reach their targets.
Getting caught up in the numbers.
Too many companies are fixated on quantitative data points. It’s not that diversity numbers don’t matter because they do, especially when they’re improving. But they don’t paint a complete picture of diversity at a company and are often used as a crutch that obscures the deeper issues.
Quantitative data is just the beginning of a conversation, and by itself, it’s not a comprehensive assessment. Formulate goals that dive into deeper qualitative measures, such as staff engagement, awareness, and culture transformation, as opposed to focusing on only numerical targets that just serve to placate the C-Suite.
Overlooking the importance of deadlines.
If you’re working tirelessly toward a single, seemingly insurmountable goal, you might find that motivation dwindles after a while. Without timelines, there’s a greater chance of procrastination and lack of follow-through.
Set clear deadlines from the start that are realistic and break down your overarching goals into smaller, achievable milestones. This way, there’s a sense of urgency that motivates the team to stay on track and take concrete steps in the short term.
Not knowing where to begin
Many teams are entirely inept at:
- a) identifying opportunities for improving DE&I, and
- b) acting on those opportunities.
Which leads us to our next section: what should you do if you literally don’t know where to start?
Getting started with the DE&I goal setting
DE&I goal setting is a tricky area and can make even the most confident professionals feel a little unsure of where to begin. So, in order to make your journey easier, here is a breakdown of the steps involved in setting goals that promote diversity and inclusion:
Step #1 Figure out the “why”
How can you possibly act with any conviction if you don’t understand the “why” behind your DE&I goals? Understanding how diversity will help your company in a tangible sense (and not just as a symbolic gesture) is crucial for ensuring that you have the proper motivation to follow through.
Step #2 Conduct an in-depth research
If you want to write goals that will help rather than hinder your cause, you need to understand what ‘good’ DE&I plans look like. Benchmarking yourself against industry standards and your local community is a great place to start when doing so.
Once that’s done, analyze your current workforce against the industry averages to determine if there are any discrepancies. Then, use these discrepancies as a springboard for your goals.
Step #3 Listen to what the employees have to say
A lot of companies are missing a vital piece of the pie when it comes to setting their DE&I goals. And that all-important key piece is their employees.
It goes without saying that whenever there is any kind of decision-making procedure, most companies turn to senior leadership. However, despite the fact that diversity has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, senior leadership continues to be one of the least diverse functions within organizations. So how can you expect to positively impact your firm’s DE&I efforts when the people who set your goals are also part of the problem?
That is why DE&I strategies need to be created, agreed and owned by the whole company. Leadership at the top can guide and shape the process, but the initiatives must be championed by the entire company from top to bottom.
Step #4 Start setting your diversity goals
Once you have aggregated and analyzed the data, you can start setting goals that will push the needle forward in the areas where your company is lacking. To ensure your success, keep the finish line in clear sight by mapping out your strategy and breaking the tasks up into manageable chunks.
Strategies to help you achieve your DE&I goals
You may have all the best intentions in the world, but actually delivering on your DE&I goals is a whole other ball game. To give yourself the best chance of success, you need to have robust strategies in place. Here are a few you might want to consider:
Plan out your DE&I initiatives
Without a well-thought-out project scope that defines the timeline and objectives of your DE&I plan, you’re likely to miss necessary steps or double up on unnecessary strategies. It’s project management 101. An adequately mapped-out work scope will help you define your timeline, objectives, and all the critical DE&I checkpoints you must hit along the way.
Start with creating a plan that outlines specific activities and timelines. Once you’ve got an actionable roadmap, develop clear goals for each initiative and tie them to measurable outcomes.
Then, allocate resources to get the job done and assign accountability to ensure everything stays on track. All of these elements will be documented in your DE&I project scope, which will serve as your north star and hold the entire team accountable.
Add value to diversity hiring
Diversity hiring quotas are an over-hyped approach to improving diversity and inclusion. Money is often spent to attract a diverse workforce, only for the employee to be miserable in their inequitable work environment. This can lead to their departure and create a cycle of inefficiency.
Diversity hiring can be costly and unsustainable when used in isolation and often leads to people feeling tokenized and unvalued. They’re meant to be a band-aid for companies who haven’t put enough work into becoming all-inclusive workplaces.
In most cases, this change won’t affect anything, except for the size of your HR budget. Instead, companies should be focusing on creating a culture of inclusion and equity, which is crucial to ensuring that staff feel comfortable and equipped to be the best they can be. After all, it’s not just about bringing in diverse candidates; you also need them to stick around.
Increase the inclusiveness of your performance reviews
We all know performance reviews have a bad reputation for being a barrier to diversity and inclusion. However, there are ways to make performance reviews work in favor of your company’s culture.
Start by ensuring that performance is based on facts and not opinions. Use multiple sources of feedback to get a clear picture of an employee’s performance. Incorporate a review rating scale that is fair, transparent, and objective. This will help create an environment of trust and ensure that all employees are judged on their performance rather than any implicit biases.
Also, encourage people to use inclusive language in their communications. The language and phrases upper management uses may perpetuate unconscious bias or exclusion. Be sure to monitor the language being used in performance reviews and ensure that everyone is making an effort to be respectful and (disability) inclusive.
Making use of tech to power DE&I initiatives
HR technology isn’t just for automation and process optimization — it can also be an invaluable tool to help companies make their DE&I initiatives a reality. Some tools, such as automated resume screening and interview scheduling software, are specifically designed to reduce bias in the recruitment process. Others allow you to track diversity metrics, monitor employee sentiment, and ensure that everyone is getting equal opportunities for promotions and career development.
Here’s a quick look at some of the more popular HR technology options available for DE&I initiatives:
Chatbots can be a great way to get feedback from employees about their experience in the workplace. For example, Allie is an AI-powered chatbot that’s the ultimate sidekick for any company looking to level up its diversity and inclusion game if its tech stack already includes Slack. By sending out automated surveys and polls, Allie empowers employees to voice their thoughts and feelings on your company’s inclusion levels and culture. It even offers a feedback feature, allowing employees to make suggestions on how the company can improve in terms of DE&I.
In addition, Allie posts news articles related to diversity in the company’s DE&I Slack channel, so everyone can stay up-to-date on the latest DE&I initiatives. And to top it all off, Allie even provides diversity training for extra support along your organization’s journey into fostering a safe atmosphere of acceptance and understanding.
Those little square barcodes you’ve been seeing everywhere lately? They’re called QR codes — and they can be used as part of your DE&I initiatives. For example, you can put a QR code on your job postings and recruitment materials to provide candidates with easy access to information about your company’s DE&I policies. You can also use QR codes to provide training and resources on DE&I topics. By linking to videos, articles, and other materials, you can make sure everyone on your team has the knowledge they need to create an inclusive workplace without having to sift through a mountain of documents.
Plus, QR codes are a great way to track user engagement, making it easy to see which initiatives are working and which ones need more focus. So, if you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to power your DE&I initiatives, QR codes might just be the solution you’re looking for. All you’ll need is a secure and dependable QR generation tool, and you’re good to go!
If you’re ready to join the fight for a more equitable workplace, then a DE&I dashboard is the perfect partner to help you get started. These dashboards help companies collect, analyze, and track data around diversity and inclusion. Depending on the type of dashboard you use, you’ll be able to get insights into employee demographics, gender equality at the leadership level, and progress toward your DE&I goals.
Using a DE&I dashboard, you’ll be able to see exactly how far along you are in reaching your DE&I targets and help identify areas of improvement. And since dashboards are usually integrated with other HR systems, you can get an accurate picture of how your DE&I initiatives are impacting the entire organization.
Don’t be disheartened if you struggle to define your diversity and inclusion goals. This process is a journey that often involves several twists and turns along the way. It takes introspection, uncomfortable conversations, and a willingness to upend your current business methods in order to see success.
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