How to Launch a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Programme

Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is a journey not a destination. However, there are several steps that we believe are key to ensuring that you lay the framework for a successful, impactful and measurable DE&I strategy that will work hard for your organisation and your people.

Here are 5 things to think about when launching your DEI programme.

Launching a DEI programme.

Simply writing your DEI strategy isn’t enough to ensure its success. We’ve shared some tips on creating a diversity, equity and inclusion strategy that supports your team and your organisation. However, to get the most out of it, here are our top 5 things to think about when launching your strategy… 

1. Leadership Buy-In

Sharing your strategy with your leadership team is key to success. You will need them to be fully bought in and behind your vision for your organisation. Although the leadership team does not need to be the driving force behind your strategy, without their support and buy-in your strategy is unlikely to work. 

We recommend bringing key stakeholders in on the strategy as early as possible. They don’t need to be involved in writing or designing the strategy. But, allowing them to see the thinking and reasoning behind the work often helps them understand the vital importance of a strong DEI programme

We find that ensuring that you have leadership support in place early can play a big part in ensuring the success of a strategy. Not only because it will help you ring fence resources, budgets and time for the strategy. We find that leadership buy-in also has a strong influence on how much your people buy into your strategy. 

2. Employee Buy-In

Having leadership buy-in is important, but if your team isn’t on board, then your strategy is unlikely to succeed! You need everyone to understand your goals and aims for your strategy from your interns to your team leaders. This will not only make your HR or People team more accountable for delivery, but will also help ensure that your programme has the fertile ground it needs to thrive. 

The importance of employee buy-in when it comes to how successful you will be should be clear. Your team is your best asset here - having strong procedures, policies and structures in place is only going to work for your organisation if your team follows and supports them. 

We believe the best way to ensure employee buy-in is by making them part of the programme from the word go. Consulting your team via relevant employee engagement surveys which allow you to see what they want and need and get their thoughts, feelings and ideas will create a solid foundation for your programme. Many of our customers also create working groups of employees from across their organisation who help workshop, design and create their strategies. 

Employee Resource Groups are an increasingly popular way of engaging your team. These are groups led by and participated in by groups of employees with particular identities. They exist to provide a safe space where your people can support each other in a personal and professional manner. ESG groups could include shared characteristics like gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, disabilities or interest. At THI we have a popular group on Menstrual Wellbeing. 

3. Clear Goals & Milestones

One of the most important things you need to ensure you have in place when implementing a new strategy is a good understanding of what success looks like and how you will measure progress. Hopefully these will have been clearly defined when creating your strategy, but part of the implementation process should be sharing your goals and communicating what milestones you expect to reach and when. This will ensure you’re moving forward in your journey. 

Goals and milestones keep your team accountable, but also create psychological safety for your people. By explaining your expectations, and what will be delivered when, you will be able to support your team through the changes you make within your organisation. Particularly when it comes to more senior team members, changes to how recruitment and performance reviews happen can disrupt work flows so helping them understand when things will be implemented can help smooth the journey for everyone. 

Understanding what success looks like and when changes will start to be seen will also motivate your team, and help you to keep driving momentum when it comes to your DEI strategy. At THI we’re big believers in celebrating successes, and reaching key milestones is the perfect time to do this!

4. Measurement & Benchmarking

You should have started your measurement and benchmarking before creating your strategy to ensure you’re taking a data-led approach. However, when launching your strategy you should also include regular points to measure and benchmark against yourself and other similar organisations. This will help you make sure that the work you’re doing and the initiatives you’re launching are moving you in the direction of your goals. 

How frequently you measure progress will depend on your organisation, how much resource you’re dedicating to your DEI programme and what the individuals on your team want and need. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all cadence when it comes to measuring your progress. This might mean annually, or you may need to include follow-up surveys more frequently as well. 

It’s also important to remember that as your team and organisation changes, their needs will change too. By regularly taking your organisation’s pulse when it comes to your DEI strategy, you will be able to ensure you’re able to react to their needs. 

5. An Agile Approach

Even if you’ve taken the time to follow all the tips we’ve suggested when it comes to planning, writing and launching your DEI strategy, sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way you had anticipated. Maybe your team or their situations have changed, maybe they’re not taking advantage of the initiatives you’ve created, maybe your organisation has grown or changed. The important thing to remember is that this is normal!

As a team it’s vital you understand that you might need to change course, and that doesn’t mean you’ve failed! Diversity, equity and inclusion is all about the journey not the destination! So being flexible and adaptable is key. 

One thing we do suggest is that you flag this early with key stakeholders including leadership, your employees and even board members if you think it’ll be helpful. If people understand you’re taking a flexible approach they’ll be more willing to shift and change with you and with your strategy. 

Key Takeaway

We hope that this blog post has helped you to see that launching your diversity, equity and inclusion programme is a team effort. There are a lot of things you can do to support your efforts when launching your programme to ensure success. However, ultimately, your programme will succeed only with the support of your whole organisation.

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