There is a discord among corporate diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives.

Just 1 in 10 D&I programs reach maturity in the workforce. This is despite 87% of organizations stating it as a value or priority area.

It’s a sobering stat, and one which is going to take on greater importance as younger generations – millennials through to Generation Z – become the dominant groups within the workforce. These demographics are set to be more culturally diverse than anything seen before, and they are motivated by values, purpose, and experience.

Successfully building a diverse and inclusive workforce is therefore going to be a bigger competitive advantage, enabling organizations to better attract and retain the best talent. This is alongside the well-documented benefits of D&I, such as improved productivity, creativity, and employee and customer satisfaction.

Breakthrough the Barriers

At Qualtrics X4 Summit in Salt Lake City, we heard from Angela Roseboro, Chief Diversity Officer at Riot Games and formerly of Dropbox, about what businesses can do to break through the D&I discord.

Roseboro stated we need a new roadmap for D&I — a roadmap that goes from passive exclusion to active inclusion, and which is tailored to satisfy employee demands and capabilities.

The new roadmap – which is built around eight pillars – set out by Roseboro creates a superior employee experience, and uncovers insights helping businesses to act quickly and purposefully. For example, it enables businesses to better understand the impact of their D&I programmes, tailor new initiatives to specific needs, secure support from across the organization, and seamlessly communicate progress and updates.

A New Approach to D&I

Organizations that adopt the modern roadmap for building a diverse and inclusive workforce are best-placed to close the D&I gap and reap the rewards it brings:

1) Define the why – Businesses need a clear vision of the D&I program’s purpose, and must set short-term and long-term goals. These should be communicated to the workforce in a concise and relevant manner so all employees understand their roles, and are united as they work towards a new culture.

2) Strategy first – A plan of action detailing how the D&I initiative will work provides strong foundations delivering long-term success. Creating a strategy should always be done before outlining the structure and individual campaign elements.

3) Executive support – Senior stakeholders need to be involved in the program as soon as possible, such as inviting them to input into the purpose and goals and highlighting the positive impact it will make. Doing so creates senior advocates for D&I who lead and inspire the rest of the workforce from the front.

4) Early engagement – Surveying employees early on helps businesses understand current attitudes toward D&I, and what the workforce believes will help break through any barriers that might exist. As a result, D&I initiatives can be tailored to exact needs, and directly respond to employee feedback to improve engagement for faster and better results.

5) Mitigate bias – The most effective D&I initiatives are predominantly grounded in objective data and analytics. Structuring them around factual information helps remove bias from the process so that all viewpoints are considered.

6) Measure impact – Success should always be measured by impact — after all, what good is a highly-subscribed programme if it’s not making a difference? Regular pulse surveys allow businesses to rapidly refine campaigns and prioritize resources to optimize performance.

7) Be accountable – Every employee should have their own D&I goals built into their individual goals and objectives. This promotes a culture of active inclusion, demonstrates a collective commitment to the cause, and provides another benchmark to measure and respond to performance.

8) Rigorous and candid communications – Providing regular and honest updates to employees keeps D&I programs front of mind to help consistently inspire change. The communications must always include an option for employees to feedback to the business, which helps create the united front required to break through the barriers to diverse and inclusive workforces.

Any type of change is always hard. But new D&I programs are easier to implement when they are guided by data and metrics, built upon a clear vision, and supported by a dedicated and motivated team.

Buzzfeed is a great example of an organization using employee data to cultivate a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Working with Qualtrics, Buzzfeed has been able to reach a milestone of 50/50 representation of women and men in leadership positions, and achieved up to 90% participation in its campaigns.

Businesses already have the data and insights they need to close the D&I gap at their fingertips. Now it’s time to uncover those insights and build tailored programmes that make a real difference to societies and economies across the globe.

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