How to Create a Winning DEI Strategy

Written by Raul Pereyra HR Pro | Human Resources Consultant

As you read every word of this article you’ll become amazed at the possibility of taking your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy to the next level by doing one simple thing.  That one simple thing is considering how behavioral outcomes shape your strategy to foster inclusion within your organization.

Consider these points as you read about the role that behavior plays in your planning process.

  1. Keep your approach to DEI simple and deliberate.
  2. Paint a clear path to follow and then begin your journey.
  3. Put in the hard work: DEI is not a training, it’s a systemic approach that happens every single day with your practices and behaviors.

Keep it simple: it’s about Inclusion.

The terms diversity and inclusion are usually used interchangeably. Many organizations have yet to adopt practices that truly promote inclusion. Often, the focus is on diversity practices: targeted recruiting, mentoring programs, pay equity, and training. And this is fine but we’ve been doing this for the last couple of decades and it’s not enough.

If your goal is to foster inclusion within your organization, then you need to go beyond established diversity practices. You need to focus on practices that promote diversity and cultivate inclusion. Having people that are different is not enough if they’re not engaged in your company. If people don’t feel like they have a say, then they cannot influence the organization.

Paint a clear path.

When you bring inclusion into the conversation, you’re saying that it’s not enough to just bring diverse people into the company. You need to also engage, develop, advance, and retain them. So, your overall strategy to cultivate inclusion must also include a clear path for engaging and retaining people.

Here are four basic questions you need to answer to paint a clear path for DEI:

  1. Where are you now?
  2. Where do you want to go?
  3. How are you going to get there?
  4. How will you know when you arrived?

And as you are thinking about these four questions, I want you to think about ways to include inclusion in your strategy.

Inclusion is a relational construct. So, your beliefs and behaviors are critical in building positive relationships. After all, we’re all humans and we have an emotional need for social relationships. We all want to belong.

When you adopt an inclusive approach, it informs your behavior and needs for using fair and equitable practices to include everyone throughout the organization.

When people experience inclusion, they experience a true sense of belonging while also feeling that their individuality is recognized and valued.

Imagine what it would be like if you could make people feel like they belong and their uniqueness is valued.

You can make it happen. It’s easy: your DEI strategy must include specific behaviors you’d like to see happen and the policies and practices you can change to help make these behaviors happen.

For real change to happen, someone along the way has to change the way they behave. Because ultimately all change is behavior change.

So, write down the specific behaviors you’d like to see and the policies and practices that help facilitate those behaviors in your DEI Strategy. And then, you can make it happen by answering those four critical questions for strategic planning.

Put in the hard work.

DEI is not rocket science but you do have to take a methodical approach just like anything else worth doing. And it’s going to take a lot of really hard work and resources if you want to see transformative, organizational change.  And this is why you must take some time upfront to create a winning strategy.

Before you bang away, take some time to think about the approach you’d like to take.

Don’t take this approach: The one-and-done “diversity” or “sensitivity” training doesn’t work. 

There I said it. Nobody likes training. Especially when people perceive it as punishment, as a required thing you must do because somehow it will fix the shortcomings you have, making you a more productive member of the company.

Are you kidding me? These remedial approaches to training may do more harm than good because they make people feel like they’re part of the problem. And guess what?  They’re more likely to become resentful and withdrawn.  This is the complete opposite of inclusion.

Pro Tip: To help shape your strategic focus, think about the behavioral outcomes or behavior expectations you can measure through performance management.

As you begin working on your winning DEI strategy, think about specific examples of behaviors and practices that will help create the behavioral change you want to see.

For example, you might want to see supervisors use open body language and positive affirmations whenever they communicate with team members.  Then you can use performance management practices to evaluate how well supervisors are demonstrating these desired behaviors.

Real inclusion, real change.

If you want to foster REAL inclusion within your organization, then you’ll need substantive, structural change AND behavioral change.

Take your time with your strategy formulation.  This is an organization-wide process and you need everyone on board.  And building your strategy is the first step in this transformative process.

Let inclusion define your path.

Our approach to DEI is not a one-and-done approach like a one-off “diversity” or “unconscious bias” training. It is a process that requires a lot of hard work and resources. It’s a journey that requires plenty of planning and a clear picture of your destination and the path you plan to take.

We’d be honored to help you along your journey. Contact us today to learn how be the change HR can help you get to your destination.

We’d be honored to help you along this journey. Contact us to see how we can support you in your journey.


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