Forget the ‘Business Case’ For Diversity And Inclusion

Forget the ‘Business Case’ For Diversity And Inclusion

I’m often asked what can we do that’s innovative and groundbreaking in the D&I space, but I think that’s the wrong question. Innovation isn’t the problem, it is the collective intention or lack thereof. The No. 1 reason progress is not advanced is because it is not prioritized. It is fundamentally a lack of will and sustained follow-through.  

So before grandiose notions are spoken and the new best thing is proffered, organizations need to make some wholesale assessments by using the six R’s:

  • Readiness:Before even attempting to start a D&I program, organizations would be best served to determine the developmental capacity of the company to receive instruction and/or engage in D&I earnestly. Determining what the key performance indicators (KPIs) will be, as well as the objectives and key results (OKRs), should be a part of the readiness assessment.
  • Reaction: After determining readiness, it is essential to know the level of receptiveness to potential programs and interventions. Organizations need to understand the climate for acceptance and must carefully craft an implementation plan right-sized for the current culture. If you push people too fast when they aren’t primed, you can have an all-out insurrection or unexpected consequences.
  • Resolve:There is a significant amount of commitment required to carry out a culture shift, and it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s essential that organizations, leaders and staff stick with the plan and do not allow indecision to alter the approach. Again, this is hard work and requires steadfastness over the long term.
  • Results:After rolling out initiatives, organizations must figure out the efficacy of the programs and initiatives. Are the programs having the impact they hoped? What needs to be changed or discontinued? What needs to be bolstered? The results must dictate the next steps.
  • Refine/Repeat:The results help organizations calibrate to the appropriate KPIs and OKRs that make sense for the life cycle of the organization. Constant customization and refinement are especially critical, particularly given the unforeseen ups and downs organizations face.
  • Relentlessness:D&I is not instantaneous, nor is it easy. It’s a progression of small, medium and large advancements in totality that incrementally improve culture and understanding.

When organizations approach objectives in a comprehensive manner, the odds for success increase, and while a singular focus may feel like the appropriate path to success, it can lead to a piecemeal strategy that creates inefficiencies and unintended outcomes. As the great Winston S. Churchill is credited to have said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”


Bernard Coleman III

Bernard is Uber’s Head of DI. Prior to Uber, he led Hillary for America’s DI as the 1st ever Chief Diversity and HR Officer in U.S. history

Source – Forbes

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