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Tips for Writing a Strategic Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging Plan

Sep 9, 2020
Diversity & Inclusion

Based on my association experience, below are some issues that may have bubbled to the surface as you began to think about your plan:  

  • Why does our leadership lack diversity (often white and male)?
  • Why are people of color heavily located in entry level jobs?
  • Who are we promoting internally? Do we keep promoting the same “type” and/or “fit”?
  • Do communities comprised of people of color know about our organization or profession and its benefits?

Below I have laid out areas to keep in mind while crafting your strategic plan, regardless of what issues have surfaced—stressing the importance of being mindful that this is a journey and not purely a destination. Ensure you institutionalize your plan so regardless of what is happening in our society or what personnel come and go, the vision, goals and objectives remain interwoven into all aspects of your organization.

Questions derived from demographic data and association surveys should lead us to ways of addressing issues. Ask yourself: 

  • Are there internal barriers hindering the opportunity, employment and inclusion of members and staff from different backgrounds? 
  • What goals should we set to ensure today’s demographics and related data will not be the same view in a year, three, five and even 10 years from now? 
  • Is there programming we need to eliminate or create to promote belonging in the organization, as well as the corresponding profession? 

As you write your vision, goals, objectives, tasks and action steps, be sure to keep the following in mind:

Vision should be aspirational:

  • Articulate up front where you see the organization/profession in three to five years. 
  • Paint a picture that’s hopeful and doable. 

Goals should be specific:

  • Goals are broad initiatives, in-line with your mission, that will enable the vision to be realized. 
  • Goals should be SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. 
  • Be sure to incorporate some long-term “stretch” goals such as increasing the percentage of minorities entering the profession and at executive level positions with specific metrics.
  • Keep in mind small wins with short-term goals such as the formation of a DEI committee or the creation of this plan. 

Objectives should be clear and tasks are action steps to achieve your goals:

  • Objectives are intended, measurable steps to realize goals. 
  • Tasks are activities needed to fulfill objectives. 
  • Action steps are activities needed to fulfill each task. 
  • Ensure every level feeds back into the level before = tasks should feed into objectives; objectives into goals; and goals into the vision. 

DEI goals must tie into the organization’s overall strategy:

  • There must be a business imperative for this work. 
  • If the plan does not tie into the overall strategic aims and goals of the organization, it is possible it will be viewed as an “add on.”
  • The DEI plan is not a “nice to do," instead, its' a business imperative!

Feedback is critical once your plan is developed!

  • Go back to the stakeholders you initially engaged, those you surveyed and those that have shown a commitment to the organization’s success in this area. 
  • Allow a chance for feedback and continue to make updates until there is buy-in that this plan is a vision they can support. 
  • Ensure the plan is supported throughout the organization and profession you serve. 

For a deeper dive into the topic of diversity and inclusion, register for Recognizing and Neutralizing Bias on September 14.

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About the Author
Dr. Florence Holland, Diversity, Inclusion and Education expert, speaker, advisor and all around awesome individual

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