Sticky Solutions

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Question: I recently started a new position as Director of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) at a municipal utilities company with over 3,000 employees. Before I was hired, the company offered bias training for managers and supported employee resource groups. Survey feedback showed that these efforts were “somewhat helpful”, but the company is still far from closing its gaps in D&I, so it has made addressing D&I a priority for the upcoming fiscal year. Can you recommend ways to adopt a more systemic approach to delivering on our D&I goals?

Answer: Congratulations on your new role! A recent LinkedIn study found that there has been a 71% increase worldwide in all D&I roles over the last five years. The key to leveraging your position to help the company achieve lasting change will depend on who you involve, weaving your work into a larger learning and development program, and getting your house in order first before you invite others in.

  1. Engage the CEO as the top champion. No matter how much groundwork you put into D&I, if your CEO isn’t visibly giving you air cover from the top, you won’t gain the traction needed to succeed.
  2. Include diverse voices in the design. Involve people from both dominant and non-dominant groups (such as ERG members) in the design and execution of the strategy to reflect a broader group of stakeholders.
  3. Incorporate into long-term leadership development. D&I training is most effective when it’s part of an enterprise-wide, well-funded strategy, that includes both awareness and skills development conducted over time.
  4. Focus on inclusion first. If you focus on making the workforce more diverse, but your new employees don’t feel included, they’ll walk right back out of the door. Define key performance indicators around inclusion that focus on day-to-day experience to establish a baseline. When you’ve achieved healthy inclusion KPI’s, you’re ready to tackle diversity goals.

You’re not building widgets. You’re changing hearts and minds. You’ll experience breakthroughs and breakdowns along the way. Keep in mind that steady progress will enable the company to grow, innovate, and compete for talent.


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