A Further Look at Elevating Your DE&I Program

A Further Look at Elevating Your DE&I Program

Understand that no matter where you are in your DE&I journey, the activation of the program is the key!

When advancing your organization’s DE&I Program, a great place to start is asking yourself where your organization is in the process. Is implementing a DE&I program just something you have been pondering over? Have you activated a program but been slow to start or move it forward? Or has your organization activated a robust course of action to drive your DE&I Program into success? Understand that no matter where you are in your DE&I journey, the activation of the program is the key! You have started! Start your DE&I initiatives with the understanding that it is not just a short-term commitment but an ongoing and continuous process. Now you can consider ways to elevate.

Things to Consider:

To start, it is essential to grasp what Diversity IS and what it IS NOT. When it comes to “Diversity,” it has been interpreted in many ways. One of our earliest introductions to the word “diversity” showed up in a book, “Workforce America, “in 1991, then again in the book “Diverse Teams at Work.” What is agreed upon and understood is that the individuals that “show up” for a DE&I program have internal and external dimensions of Diversity. This fact will always remain. What we know Diversity IS:

Diversity is a noun representing a mix of similarities and differences, referring to different experiences, backgrounds, races, sex, and others. Diversity relates further to the combination of the group, also referred to as “Your variety.” Diversity further refers to the inclusion of “all of us,” meaning everyone in the organization.

Diversity is not any one group or sub-category of individuals in an organization. This approach would not be inclusive. Any system that is not inclusive would miss the mark of a diversity-enriched culture. The focus must be on the collective to accomplish the task of successful Diversity. Diversity itself also is not the program alone. The unique differences of the collective make up Diversity. Establishing Diversity is not a one-time deal, yet an ongoing and continuous effort of and for the collective group of people that make up the organization. Diversity success can not be triumphant on a “start and stop” basis. Further, it is interesting enough to point out that if you nail down the diversity portion, the equity and inclusion portion of your DE&I program will follow. No matter what stage of your DEI program, it is truly as simple as treating one another like human beings.

Next, let us examine why your DE&I can not be effective as a “one and done” program. Actual successful DE&I programs are, indeed, ongoing. So, to not be overwhelmed by your overall more significant DE&I goals, it is necessary to look at your organization’s DE&I program more so as an ongoing journey, so to speak, with stages or phases. This  is what we refer to as a “DE&I Maturity Model.” Looking at it this way makes your program more approachable, less overwhelming, and measurable. From this journey-based perspective, a defined understanding of where an organization is going is critical for team members to be motivated to follow along with the journey. Inclusive conversations about the importance of having a robust DE&I culture in your organization, with everyone, not just those who look different from you, establish the organization’s position in the journey. Stage 1 of your organization’s Maturity Model should set the tone for what the DE&I Program is, what it means to the organization, and the tremendous success of a diverse and positive workforce.

Further steps of an organization’s Maturity Model refer to building slow, gradual and impactful initiatives to expound and evolve the program and drive the organization to its final stage of the DE&I Maturity Model. However, as you reach your final goal, the DE&I work does not stop there. At this stage or phase, it becomes about re-evaluating new purposes, new targets, possibly program expansions, program improvements, external reporting, etc. And thus, the effort to strive for the tremendous success of your DE&I comes with continuous and ongoing pragmatic work, redefining, and resharpening.

It is also interesting to point out that an organization’s Maturity Model may be simultaneously at various stages. One department may be at the final stages, while another works to readjust earlier stages. This is okay. If continuous efforts remain ongoing, your organization is on its course, no matter what stage/phase you are in. It entails always being prepared for learning, training, and continuous improvements and expounding your vision further at each benchmark.

To review stages of an organization’s Maturity Model in greater depth, from this scope:

Stage 1:

  1. Current Mindset of the Organization: An organization is in DE&I infancy.
  2. Applicable Practices: They have prepared a DE&I statement.
  3. Maturity Point: Ridding of Deficient Programs.

Stage 2:

  1. Current Mindset of the Organization: An organization has begun its DE&I activities.
  2. Stage 3: applicable Practices: Establishing Internal Policy.
  3. Maturity Point: Establishing Baseline practices.

Stage 3:

  1. Current Mindset of the Organization: An organization has activated its DE&I activities, like policies and training.
  2. Applicable Practices: Implementing Procedures.
  3. Maturity Point: Establishing best practices.

Stage 4:

  1. Current Mindset of the Organization: An organization has a well-built DE&I program
  2. Applicable Practices: Surveys, Resource Groups, and data interpretation and application.
  3. Maturity Point: Implementing better practices.

Stage 5:

  1. Current Mindset of the Organization: An organization maintains a solid DE&I best practices program
  2. Applicable Practices: Leadership Evaluations and External Reporting,
  3. Maturity Point: Leading those practices.

Remember the following based on any DE&I Maturity Model:

  1. Organizations can be at various stages of the Maturity Model simultaneously. This depends on the organization’s size, location, operation, and other determining factors. Steps can and often do overlap.
  2. An organization must always work toward reshaping, recultivating, and strengthening its DE&I program.
  3. The work does not end. The actions may not be stopped and gone. Consistency is imperative in driving the success of future stages.
  4. An organization’s Maturity Models can look completely different from one organization to the next.
  5. We are positioning the organization for long-term continuous commitment to the DE&I Program.

Lastly, the leadership’s commitment to a successful program will help drive the wheel of a successful DE&I program. However, it is not just the leadership’s efforts that move the agenda forward. It is all the team and the team’s collective commitment to an impactful and successful DE&I program. Next, the worse thing for a program is to regress and must revisit earlier steps. The stagnation and inconsistency may affect the foundation of moving along in a Maturity Model. Reach out for resources and additional training when necessary and before necessity. This has outlined how to elevate your organization’s DE&I program truly. Let us remember to think beyond Diversity, be proactive, and lead with humanity.

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