Diversity & Inclusion: Creating An Operating Plan
Not so long ago, “diversity” was mostly a leadership buzzword, one that became nearly meaningless after it was tossed around as an end in and of itself. Today, we know that diversity must be paired with inclusion, and that it’s not a goal but a process. Even more importantly, smart companies that want to be able to compete in today’s increasingly global marketplace know that every leader has to embrace the concept of making the most of every stakeholder’s contribution.
And well, okay, that all sounds good, but how can a well-intentioned company or HR Department make that happen? Creating better leaders that are equipped to face the challenges of diversity and inclusion head-on is no small task. But it’s those well-trained, well-informed leaders that are able to improve the company’s outlook on diversity (and make it an operational reality), who will propel the company forward into greater success.
So, where does an Operating Plan for Diversity and Inclusion begin?
- The Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council
The first step should be establishing a leadership council or group, of whatever size suits the organization, to oversee the program, and really champion the concept of inclusion: every stakeholder feels engaged and connected to the goals and vision of the company.
- The Strategic Priorities
The Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council should then establish strategic priorities, for instance, is recruitment a good focus area, or should the Council work to educate and inform internally first? Is it a priority to educate internal leaders to help them learn to practice inclusion in their every-day dealings with employees? Do leaders need to be taught to capitalize on the talents of their team members, or is that element already in place? These types of questions will not only help the Council establish a game plan, but will also help measure success later.
- Leadership Training
Next, the Leadership Council will need to establish a clear and consistent way of training every member of the organization on these ideas. Leaders should be trained first, and team members that report to those leaders second. Training may include video, online, or in-person training. Additionally, the diversity & inclusion training should include measurement tools. These performance indicators could include surveys, course tests, feedback groups, or any measure determined as an effective tool by the Leadership Council.
- Market & Promote
Another important part of a Diversity & Inclusion operating plan is a way to communicate and promote the plan – and the results – both internally and externally, at all levels. The Leadership Council could think of this element as being similar to a marketing campaign – how to best promote the efforts of the group and share the results.
This communication could take the form of an internal website, a printed newsletter, or even email messages. Whatever method the Leadership Council determines is best, it’s important that it always remind everyone of the strategic goals and inform leaders and employees on how the company is progressing toward them.
“A Better Leader,” an award-winning online leadership training platform, offers an outstanding course on Diversity and Inclusion, which is a great starting place for this type of program. “A Better Leader” trains leaders in four focus areas:
- Support Your People
- Improve Your People
- Motivate Your People
- Connect with Your People
The new “Diversity & Inclusion” topic falls is included in the “Support Your People” topic, and is specifically designed to not just talk about being “politically correct” – but to demonstrate to leaders how their team can be more successful in a global marketplace. That means showing them how to face the challenges of diversity head-on, and teaching them to do the things that improve diversity and inclusion and make them an operational reality.