Tie your D&I strategy to the business
Framing D&I initiatives and human resources programs as the “right thing to do” to people who don’t see the need is often futile. Much like a kid who can’t understand why he has to floss his teeth, people who aren’t fluent in the world of D&I will come up with all kinds of avoidance tactics to why D&I efforts are unnecessary. If they don’t grasp the need for change, they won’t understand why it matters. Instead, link D&I initiatives to business objectives. Make it clear that they’re not just another HR program, but a fundamental change in corporate culture that will positively impact operations and bottom-line results. Everybody gets that. At Symantec, we created Inclusion Change Teams comprised of company leaders who ensure that D&I efforts dovetail seamlessly with business goals and then promote this awareness within their groups.
Rely on data
Numbers don’t lie. In most D&I efforts, you should expect people to have lots of opinions – and many anecdotal successes and failures. These stories are worth listening to, but keep in mind that anecdotes revolve around emotion. They can often surface biases, and may offer only partial insights into reality. Data, on the other hand, will point out where the true problem spots are and whether they are being positively addressed. By regularly surveying people within the organization with very intentional questions, you can more accurately measure engagement and sentiment on D&I issues. You can turn the data you collect into dashboards so that people have intuitive, visual access to the information, and then distribute these dashboards regularly to company leaders.
Addressing the serious issues of D&I is not easy. You must be willing to stay the course, and be committed for the long haul. The five suggestions above will get you started in the right direction.