Guided by the strategy’s purpose and objectives, alongside an understanding of how diversity and inclusion can improve different categories of business (i.e. talent retention, winning the business and loyalty of customers, driving market innovation1) you will know what needs to be addressed, but not necessarily how to do so.
There is no ‘one-size fits all’ solution, but don’t worry! There will be resource requirements and business impact on the company when you launch your strategy. By identifying who and what will be required from the start, you can plan for any additional resources, reduce risk and create tangible timelines.
Financial resources are crucial to the launch and management of the D&I strategy. You will need to sit down with your C-level executives to discuss funding the strategy. Additionally, it’s important to realise that while all D&I initiatives require time, some D&I actions plans are free (for example, sending out an employee survey for feedback).
There is no universal structure for determining a budget for your D&I strategy: each strategy is custom-designed to fit your company’s needs. However, before meeting with your fellow founders (for small companies), or your CFO (for mid- to large-sized companies) to determine a budget, prepare a realistic budget that takes into consideration:
3 to 5 objectives you hope to achieve during the period for which you are budgeting
How you achieve these goals, what resources (people, tech tools) you’ll need
Is the budget for a year? Or is it for 36 months?
By preparing a plan for your budget in advance, your CFO or fellow founders will be able to forecast costs and approve a final budget more quickly
Get the right people behind your strategy from the get-go, as well as during the launch and to manage the project after its implementation (both critical to the strategy’s success).
For small companies (<30 people), get your whole team behind the initiative – if you do, you will be creating a team of cultural ambassadors who will help share the responsibility with the leadership team.
Plan your team and define roles and responsibilities to reduce common risks including project overload, lack of ownership, poor governance, and lack of direction. Companies should plan this team to match their distinctive objectives and values. However, there are some fundamentals to consider when identifying who needs to be involved, and what their role may include. Remember: the success of a D&I strategy starts with the leadership team and subsequently depends on the strategy’s adoption by the company as a whole.
Depending on the size of your company, roles will differ from one business to the next. If you are a startup or small company, you may have limited resource availability. Therefore, one person may undertake multiple roles.
If your resource is internal, employees may be faced with balancing project responsibilities alongside their job. This may cause conflicting priorities. To counteract task overload, ensure that the D&I strategy team roles
and responsibilities are agreed, documented, and clarified upfront. Make clear what is expected of each team member both during the project and in the long run. If roles change, handover needs to be documented and agreed upon by all stakeholders.
Below, we set out a few example roles and responsibilities for a D&I team and ongoing management of the project:
|C-Level Executive(s)||This leadership group has the power and influence to generate real change in your firm (both in terms of culture and procedure)||
|D&I Manager/Lead (strategy management)||For centralized management of the D&I strategy on a daily basis.||
|Head of Talent/Recruitment||Leads hiring decisions (a crucial division of the business that directly correlates to people diversity), and has the power to influence workforce diversity||
|PR||To be accountable for content/messaging published showing the company’s support of D&I||
|Task Force Reps (steering groups)||This group is the workforce sounding board. They represent cultural representation within the company and should consult on ideas, and plans you want input on.||
Time (and deliverables)
Timelines for strategy deliverables vary depending on scope, size and complexity of the company. What matters is that you devise a realistic timescale that allows for both short term and stretch goals to be realised. Change in company culture is not instantaneous. Allow for contingency events and delays. Break down your project into crucial stages and establish deliverables for each step (for example: when do C-level execs. need to sign off on initial resource budget). As you work through your plan, the timescale will become clear.
The most successful D&I strategies are those with ‘higher levels of continued engagement and accountability, such as task forces, diversity managers, and mentoring programmes2. For some leading industry examples, check out Part Four: Case studies.
To foster high levels of engagement, hold workshops, one-to-one meetings with task force leads/department heads and encourage participation in diversity and inclusion-related outreach programmes. These activities and feedback sessions will ensure accountability and help to instill a sense of employee ownership in your D&I strategy.
Accounting for risk: don’t be afraid to fail
Risk is a set of possible factors (events or conditions) that should they occur, they could cause impact on, or deviation from, a project objective. Risk factors differ from one firm to another so take into consideration the size, priorities and sector of your company. Evaluate any potential challenges to your D&I strategy with a simple brainstorming session between you and your D&I team.
Don’t ignore stating risk. Transparency and prevention measures are the most effective ways to mitigate the severity of risk.
”Go beyond the illusion of inclusion. It’s the difference between mentorship and sponsorship — that means you have skin in the game. It takes a conscious personal commitment from everyone.3”
VP of Inclusion and Diversity Twitter
- Hewlett, S A and Yoshino, K. LGBT-Inclusive Companies are Better At Three Big Things. HBR, February 02, 2016, accessed on October 01, 2018.
- Pruitt, A-S et al. 5 Things We Learned About Creating a Successful Workplace Diversity Program. HBR online, March 30, 2018, accessed on October 01, 2018.
- Sultani, M A. “Candi Castleberry Singleton Hired as VP of Inclusion and Diversity at Twitter”, USA TODAY 9online): https://www.techfunnel.com/hr-tech/ candi-castleberry-singleton-hired-vp-inclusion-diversity-twitter/. Accessed on Ocotber 01, 2018