Being clear on what D&I means to your management team

D&I policies must be relevant to your organisational situation, says workplace consultant Patrick Voss

Patrick Voss, CEO at Impetus & Momentum, says it’s time management teams get clear on their unified vision for D&I and what it means.

A recent PwC CEO survey saw people and diversity and inclusion topping the priority list – underlining the focus and pressure to nail these areas. It’s important to consider the strategies and actions that sit beneath this carefully, given no one size fits all approach.

The key is to make policies and programmes relevant to you, your organisational situation and the colleagues you have, and those you might want to attract and keep.

At a high level, D&I is about understanding and being interested in the aspects of culture and different experiences of working with you and partners and suppliers.

At a more granular level, D&I helps you unpick and recognise that there will be different perspectives and experiences which you will integrate proactively into your thinking – across the business.

But as a CEO, HR Director or management team, what’s the right approach for you? Here are a few steps to navigate through as a group:

1. Start with your business strategy, consider what you’re setting out to achieve, how your people, and how you do things fit into this. Define what D&I means for you and to your organisation as a result.

2. Be open and honest as a leadership team about why you are focusing on D&I. You will have different perspectives, with some more advocates, others persuadable, and some detractors – but knowing this and being transparent will help you understand the playing field you’ll need to navigate. You might also want to have an open discussion around whether any focus on D&I is about showing that you are focused on workplace culture and attracting/retaining a wide range of talent – from a selection of groups.

These discussions could include:

  • Managing risk and avoiding issues in the future
  • A response to broader employee or societal pressure (somewhat proactive)
  • Because you have specific employees or employee groups that have raised it (reactive)
  • Because it’s the right thing to do
  • Because you believe in meritocracy and actually want to ensure opportunity exists for all

3. Think about the cultures (and sub-cultures) that exist in your business. Those overarching as an organisation, but also the ones that occur within teams and locations as well as customer groups, partners, and suppliers.  Can you work out what the majority groups, types of people, background, experiences, and ways of thinking are?

What does this data show you? Look into other information you might be collecting and holding on to your teams to add to the mix – you won’t have every aspect. Still, it might allude to gender, LGBT+, nationality, the background of experience, promotion rates/flow rates, attrition, grievances, and issues.

4. Develop a clear strategy with associated plans, investments, and policies. In a nutshell, these are important because:

  • Having a longer-term strategy gives you a clear sense of direction and allows all of your stakeholders to understand the direction in which you are heading – and why you might be prioritising focus on some areas over others.
  • Plans will outline specific steps you will take, investments you’re committing to move forwards and identify who will be responsible for different tactics.

It is your policies that will provide the framework that you work within. This will include outlining expectations regarding behaviour and the procedures you will follow should any inclusion issues be reported. It will ensure you have strong governance in place that is clear to all and ‘lived’ in your organisation.

The above is the functional approach, but D&I is also about behaviour and winning over hearts and minds. It is an ongoing journey, not a quick win. Understanding more about the individuals and groups in your organisation, how engaged and able to be themselves they feel is key and will enable you to be consistent in your own language and behaviour.

D&I won’t solve every business issue, but done right, it can significantly impact organisational culture and employee, partners, suppliers, and customer engagement and satisfaction.

Patrick Voss, CEO at Jeito and, helps senior leaders devise strategies to impact workplace culture positively.

Patrick Voss

Patrick Voss is a managing director at Jeito Consulting.

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