Getting Stakeholders on Board

Securing acceptance from stakeholders (for example investors, board members, employees) can be one of the most significant challenges for anyone looking to roll out new company-wide strategy in the workplace. D&I often calls for better communication, education and cultural adjustment and careful change management: it’s not a quick discussion followed by pressing the ‘on’ switch for take-off. Your stakeholders at every level need to commit to ensure its efficacy.

When it comes to pitching a new (or improved) diversity and inclusion strategy, you also face the added difficulty of appealing for significant investment – whether financially or in terms of time and resource – for often hard-to-measure (yet no less real) returns.

Why do stakeholders need to be onboard?

Getting a ‘yes’ from those controlling the company budgets isn’t the only reason to invest time in winning over your stakeholders. These stakeholders also have a significant role to play in safeguarding against common project risks, such as overrun on time or budget, low user adoption, or resistance from senior representatives in the firm. Given the potential impact a D&I strategy can have on your business and its employees, your leaders are also those who can champion the change from the top, down. This means motivating, exciting and engaging your team to ensure you get the most important outcome of all: colleagues championing your new D&I strategy.

Map out the stakeholders

For larger companies (this step is less relevant to small companies with fewer than 30 people), identify and map out who the stakeholders are. This covers anyone with a stake in the project – from sign-off and budgetary approval to roll out, implementation, and adoption. Consider their level of interest in the D&I strategy and their power to influence it. This will help you define where to focus efforts during your planning and deployment process. For mid- to large-sized companies, you might want to consider your clients or customers, senior managers, talent managers, department managers, and the finance team. For small companies, identify how each team member can contribute their expertise to your strategy.