In this article...
What is a DEI strategy?
A DEI strategy is a measured plan an organization develops and implements to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion across all stages of the employee life cycle. Creating a comprehensive DEI strategy is all about involving the right stakeholders, collecting relevant data and feedback, and setting goals that are clear, quantifiable, and relevant.
How to create a DEI strategy
Assess current DEI strengths and weaknesses
It’s difficult to create an impactful DEI strategy without first taking a hard look at the organization’s current strengths and weaknesses.
The best way to ensure all voices are heard in your preliminary assessment is to send out an anonymous, detailed survey to all personnel. This type of survey or assessment needs to cover a lot of bases to be effective, but if you’re not careful, you may overwhelm your audience with too many questions that may not be relevant to your process.
To mitigate biases and increase participation, consider outsourcing this process to an expert DEI firm, consulting practice, or software solution that uses proven data collection methods to collect feedback. Third-party organizations can also analyze the results to identify actionable gaps and areas for improvement in hiring, retention, engagement, company culture, training, and other HR fundamentals.
Select DEI leaders for your organization
The results of your assessment may point you toward the right DEI leadership model for your organization. Depending on your organization’s size and composition, it might be best to put your HR team, learning and development team, dedicated DEI staff, and/or company-wide DEI committee in charge of the strategy and planning.
Regardless of who your leader(s) will be, make it clear how they are accountable for DEI initiatives. These leaders should know what projects and initiatives they have control over, what KPIs will be measured, and which stakeholders should be involved in big-picture planning. Consider creating a formalized DEI leadership guide or rubric for clear expectations upfront.
Set SMART short-term and long-term goals
While any sort of quantitative goal-setting approach can be effective for DEI strategic planning, SMART goals are a great place to start. SMART goals are goals that are:
This type of framework is based on realistic and objective points of measurement, which makes it an effective tool for setting DEI goals that actually get across the finish line.
While setting your SMART goals, be sure to set both short-term and long-term goals that demonstrate DEI progress over time. The first ones you come up with will likely be more focused on creating an immediate impact, but a strong DEI strategy frames these short-term initiatives within the context of a long-term vision.
Setting both short- and long-term goals provides a strategic combination of structure and flexibility that will help you adjust DEI priorities as the organization’s needs evolve.
Ready to set your DEI goals? Read DEI Metrics: The Key to Building an Effective DEI Program.
Identify resource requirements
A resource planning section should be included in your DEI strategy plans and documentation so you can take inventory of the supplies and budget you need, major costs on the horizon, and any partnerships that are established or in the works.
While identifying and recording your DEI resource needs, ask yourself the following questions:
These questions will help you pinpoint your most pressing projects and requirements. When you identify resources that are nice to have but non-essential, be sure to label them as such so you can refer back and reevaluate them down the road. There may be some budget left over for these wishlist items, but you need to know what to prioritize.
Evaluate DEI strategic programs and initiatives
Once your DEI plans are in effect and programming is underway, it’s time to evaluate the programs themselves. These are just a handful of the questions your DEI leadership team should be able to answer at least once per month:
Your evaluation should consider all of the moving pieces at this stage of strategic DEI development and include a mix of qualitative and quantitative measurements. For example, you should track how your DEI projects are performing against the KPIs you set at the onset of the program, but you should also reach out to employees for input on current and future DEI initiatives.
Update your DEI strategy based on periodic evaluations
Setting your DEI strategy at the beginning and refusing to reassess it is a recipe for disaster: Plans can grow stale or out-of-touch with workplace trends, workforce demographics are likely to change, and new roadblocks may create unanticipated challenges for your long-term goals. It’s important to be open to feedback and results — both positive and negative — so you can apply that data to new and improved strategic DEI initiatives.
DEI strategy examples
Depending on your organization and its strategic DEI goals, the right combination of tools and resources will give you a boost toward your desired results. These are just a few examples of how a thoughtful DEI strategy or resource can make a difference:
Platforms and training programs that support DEI strategies
A well-rounded DEI strategy often uses educational programming to lay the groundwork for future development. If your resource inventory doesn’t include the necessary skills for creating training materials in-house, several third-party platforms offer ways to fill in the gaps.
Read more: What Is DEI Training & How to Implement It
The importance of a robust DEI strategy
Simply saying DEI is important to your organization without a strategy in place makes it difficult to measure true progress. Especially for goals like diversifying talent pipelines and improving employee experiences across demographics, a thorough DEI strategy establishes clear criteria for success that are informed by employee feedback and longer-term organizational goals.
If your DEI goals have stalled and programming has fallen flat, start by evaluating your current strategy to find a new path toward success.
Featured HR software partners
Elevate your HR with a modern, easy-to-use HRIS designed for small businesses. GoCo is a secure, compliant hub for sending, digitally signing, and organizing your sensitive HR documents and data. Manage records, performance, time off, onboarding, benefits, and more – all in one place. With the best support in the industry, every GoCo customer is assigned a dedicated Customer Success Team that is readily available to provide guidance and ensure a smooth and reliable HRIS experience.
BambooHR is an award-winning HR platform that helps your growing organizations automate, centralize, and connect your people data all in one place. It gives you a one stop shop to manage data, hire talent, run payroll, and help employees grow.
Meet Bob, the modern HR platform for modern business. With Bob, HR teams get everything they need to operate efficiently and engage employees in one HRIS. Use automation and workflows to save hours on HR admin time. Connect employees from anywhere with a social media-like homepage that drives culture with communications, kudos, and recognition. Centralize all people data in one place for a holistic view. Share accurate reports for stronger insights and better decision-making.