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 it comes to really advancing your organization’s DE&I Program, a great place to start is asking yourself where is our organization 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 really 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! Starting your DE&I initiatives with the understanding of knowing it is not just a short-term commitment, but an ongoing and continuous process. Now you can consider ways to elevate.
Things to Consider:
When it comes to the term “Diversity,” it has been interpreted in many ways. One of our earliest introductions to the term “diversity,” showed up in a book, “Workforce America, “ in the 1991, then again in the book “Diverse Teams at Work.” To start, it is important to get a grasp on what diversity IS and what it IS NOT. What is agreed 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, which simply means a representation of a mix of both similarities and differences, differences referring to different experiences, backgrounds, race, sex, and other. Diversity further refers to the inclusion of “all of us,” meaning everyone in the organization. Diversity further refers to the mix of the group, also referred to as “Your variety.”
Diversity is not any one group or sub-category of individuals in an organization. This approach would not be inclusive. Any approach that is not inclusive would miss the mark of a diversity enriched culture. To accomplish the task of a successful diversity, the focus must be on the collective. 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 successful 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 further examine why your DE&I can not be effective as a “one and done” program. True successful DE&I programs are, indeed, ongoing. So, to not be overwhelmed by your overall greater 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, and less overwhelming, and also measurable. From this journey based perspective, a defined understanding of where an organization is going is critical in order in order for team members, to be motivated to follow along with the journey. Having inclusive conversations about the importance of having a strong DE&I culture is to your organization, with everyone, not just those that look different from you, establish the organization’s position in the journey. Stage 1 of your organization’s Maturity Model should be setting the tone for what the DE&I Program IS and what it means to the organization, and the greater success of a diverse and positive workforce. Further steps of an organization’s Maturity Model refers 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, just 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 goals, new targets, possibly program expansions, program improvements, external reporting, etc. And thus, the effort to strive for the greatest success of your DE&I comes with continuous and ongoing pragmatic work, and redefining, and resharpening.
What is also interesting to point out is that an organization’s Maturity Model may be at various stages, all at the same time. One department may be at the final stages, while another department works to readjust earlier stages. This is okay, if there are continuous efforts that remain ongoing, your organization is on its course, no matter what stage/phase you are in. It entails always being prepared for learning, and 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:
Current Mindset of the Organization: An organization is at DE&I infancy.
Applicable Practices: They have prepared a DE&I statement.
Maturity Point: Ridding of Deficient Programs.
Current Mindset of the Organization: An organization has begun its DE&I activities.
Applicable Practices: Establishing Internal Policy.
Maturity Point: Establishing Baseline practices.
Current Mindset of the Organization: An organization has activated their DE&I activities, like policies and training.
Applicable Practices: Implementing Procedures.
Maturity Point: Establishing best practices.
Current Mindset of the Organization: An organization has a well-built DE&I program
Applicable Practices: Surveys, Resource Groups, and interpreting and applying the data.
Maturity Point: Implementing better practices.
Current Mindset of the Organization: An organization maintains a solid DE&I best practices program
Applicable Practices: Leadership Evaluations and External Reporting,
Maturity Point: Leading those practices.
Remember the following based on any DE&I Maturity Model:
- Organizations can be at various stages of the Maturity Model, simultaneously. This becomes dependent or size or the organization, location, operation, and several other determining factors. Stages can and often do overlap.
- An organization must always be working toward reshaping, recultivating, and strengthening its DE&I program.
- The work does not end. The actions may not be stop and go. Consistency is imperative in driving the success of future stages.
- Organization’s Maturity Models can look completely different one organization to the next.
- 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 alone that drive the program 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 are what may affect the foundation of moving along in a Maturity Model. Reach out for resources, and additional training, not only when necessary, but before necessity. This has outlined how to truly elevate your organization’s DE&I program. Let us remember to think beyond Diversity, be proactive, and lead with humanity.