Coming in from the Cold – Tips to align your diversity strategy with your organizational strategy

by Zakeana Reid

The pilot stage of CCDI Employer Inclusivity Index (EII) project is ending and we are putting the finishing touches on the final product for rollout to the public. The EII, based on global diversity and inclusion benchmarks, helps employers identify any diversity and inclusion gaps and provides customized recommendations that the organization can take to drive a successful workforce into the future.

In my review of the pilot findings, it became clear that organizations that separated their diversity strategy from their organizational strategy consistently scored lower on the index. Also, these same organizations cut budgets and reduced the number of staff who supported diversity and inclusion (D&I).

Many organizations simply associate D&I initiatives with social justice and community relations, rather than realizing the business value to the organization. In the joint research report by Deloitte Australia and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup? A new recipe to improve business performance, the authors found that D&I can have the following impact:

When employees think their organisation is committed to, and supportive of diversity and they feel included, employees report better business performance in terms of ability to innovate, (83% uplift) responsiveness to changing customer needs (31% uplift) and team collaboration (42% uplift).

Given that the impacts are all at the business strategy level, having a diversity strategy that is divorced from the organizational strategy seems counterintuitive.

My counsel to D&I practitioners is to know your organizational strategy and use diversity and inclusion as a means of achieving the strategy. When the two are in lockstep, the risk of losing valuable resources (financial or human) is minimized. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Review your organizational strategy
  • For each strategic initiative, outline a way in which your D&I program can support this initiative with specific D&I deliverables
  • Examples:
    • Organizational Strategy – in 2017 ABC Corp will be opening an office in Japan. D&I initiatives to support the business strategy –  Cultural Competence for working in Japan: Business etiquette, unconscious bias, demographic overview of new market, recruitment practices abroad, working with teams across time zones.
    • Organizational Strategy – with the success of WRP product in College/University environments, ABC Corp will be expanding the client base to include other institutional settings such as hospitals and nursing homes. Diversity and inclusion Initiatives to support this business strategy – generational differences in marketing and promotional materials; focus groups with multi-generational participants so you can examine potential barriers to the use and implementation of products; accessibility assessment for users with mobility restrictions.

These are just some of the things you can do to add greater value to your organization and show the business results of diversity and inclusion.

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