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Why DEI strategies fail

Monday October 11, 2021, By Janani Sampath

An organization is keen on working out its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals and sets out on it with zeal. However, over time the company doesn’t see the change it intended to. Sounds familiar?

Despite the best of intentions and efforts, DEI goals may seem elusive and for good reasons. Here is a checklist to ensure that you are not going off track.

Endorsement at all levels: Often, DEI goals are seen as an HR-specific activity or need work at the bottom. However, the strategies need an endorsement from top to bottom with support from executives across the board. When it gets the support and work required at various levels, with everyone championing it clear and convinced about the role they play, DEI becomes an organizational goal and not privy to one particular group or a person.

Specify strategies: The business, culture, and talent case for DEI initiatives are well known. The company has to be clear and specific about the means. Checking strategies to chalk out the long-term objectives, and the roadmap to achieve these, and naming the key stakeholders in it can drive the goals. It also helps to share the objectives with the people concerned and receive feedback. Having room for incorporating changes, while proceeding towards the goals also gives the flexibility to adapt.

DEI has several strands to it, but a deeply personal and subjective approach, looking into the organization’s needs will provide a clear vision.

Stay invested: Sometimes, the resource allocation for DEI could be an issue. When DEI initiatives are a mere tick in the box, there would be no meaning to the conversations surrounding them. Instead, bringing on board the right set of people to drive the policies and charter the journey, should be the priority.

Identifying the strengths of other players in the organization can also complement efforts. Once the core team is entrusted with the task, support and funding initiatives are the key ingredients.

Come down to metrics: DEI goals need patience, focus, and are a long-term goal. If the company wants to see the change, it is important to have the metrics to measure it. The metrics have to consider both input and output. For e.g., you want to increase the number of women in your company’s workforce. The output metrics will measure how it has improved by the end of the year, and see if the attrition rate among women has decreased. For the output, the inputs have to be specific. What roles can be added to the second-career program? How the company’s policies can be tweaked to accommodate more women across levels considering their requirements? Add perks and benefits like mentorship, increasing maternity break period, offering benefits, remote work, etc., extending them to all categories- adoptive parents and commissioning mothers in case of surrogacy.

Finally, DEI programs can be a steep learning curve for an organization. It can be challenging, but when executed with plan and focus, the results are rich, with a far-reaching impact on the company.

Author Profile

Janani Sampath
Janani Sampath
With close to 15 years of experience in journalism across beats in multiple mediums, Janani Sampath is senior content writer and assistant editor, Diversity Digest.
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