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Raising the Bar in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI): What Does It Look Like in 2023?

By April 11, 2023May 8th, 2023No Comments

Over the last month, I’ve been researching how various organizations’ DEI journeys are progressing since it was a focal point a couple years ago. It seems that actions were taken but, did it really raise the bar in how employees interact with each other and how organizations promote leaders?

My assessment: it is a work-in-process, and we need to be more strategic if we are serious about making this culture change within our organizations.

All organizations’ DEI path is not a one-way journey, and that is why it’s good to understand the key aspects of the journey your organization is on so that you can work towards where you want to be. Looking at the DEI Maturity Model, most organizations are somewhere between awareness and commitment on their journeys.


5-Step DEI Maturity Model

  • Awareness: what does this looks like? Start to look at your organization’s demographic data, create new data/track key indicators, understand where you can start, survey employees and leaders, minimal commitment to DEI across the organization, understand the “why” we want to develop a DEI program, listening tour throughout the organization, benchmarking, employee data, DEI audit from 3rd party, launch ERGs [Employee Resource Groups].
  • Commitment: what does this look like? Senior leaders/executives are behind the journey and think it is important, to develop long-term strategies and active ERG [Employee Resource Groups] that are leading DEI initiatives and strategies [seen as proactive within their organizations].
  • Engagement: what does this look like? Top leaders are committed and are willing to continue to invest in this journey, how do we bring the commitments to life, how do we show measurable progress and how do we hold people accountable?
  • Growth: what does this look like? How do we thread this through everything we do? What does it look like globally? Understanding the nuances globally and building cultural competencies.
  • Ingrained: what does this look like? It may look like having people moving beyond understanding and action planning to develop an advanced strategy—future forward—infused into innovation and design in products and services.

So why are we stuck at these lower levels of impact? It can be hard to move hearts and minds with this emotionally charged subject. Here are some challenges I hear from organizations [see if any resonate with you or what you hear]:

  • Resources: people to do the work and money to support
  • Bringing strategy to life within the organization
  • It is ever-evolving in focus
  • People have strong opinions on this topic
  • The energy can be hard to sustain- what are you doing to take care of yourself? [for those who are leading the change as it is emotionally draining]
  • Which metrics are you tracking and holding others accountable to?
  • How to define diversity within an organization? What is right?
  • How to “onboard” new leaders that come into the organization?
  • Accountability and levels of commitment to DEI initiatives

I believe to take our organizations to that next level, we need to provide opportunities and support for growth. It is a skill-building opportunity for us all, but it needs to move way beyond training as that is just the start. When we start to drive and see that behavior change over time through our words and actions. However, we also need to meet people where they are in their DEI journey. Our goal at the end of the day is to have a united, productive, and inclusive workforce and this will take focused time and effort over the long haul. Good luck in your journey to the summit!

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