The importance of planning your Inclusion and Diversity Strategy

Planning is critical to the success of your I&D work. In this article Addison Barnett, Head of Inclusion and Diversity Services (South), explains what steps you need to take to develop an inclusion and diversity strategy that has impact and sees inclusion become embedded in the DNA of your organisation.

As we begin another year, it is critical that you are prepared with a strong inclusion and diversity strategy.

Employee needs are changing, and it is essential that your company is prepared to meet them. This article will go over the significance of a strategy and how to get started with a plan.

Why should I be proactive with inclusion planning?

Planning is a critical component of the cultural shift that inclusion necessitates. In my work with our members, I frequently see people being reactive rather than proactive in terms of inclusion.

This is commonly the result of being too busy to plan ahead, but because you didn’t plan ahead, everything becomes more difficult and time-consuming!

How to get started

We’ve got you covered if you’re wondering how to get started with proactive planning. Here are a few easy methods to begin with.

Review the progress you’ve made

A good way to start planning for next year is to review all the progress you’ve made this year. It may surprise you quite how much you’ve done.

It’s quite likely that your plans changed over time, but spending some time reviewing where you’ve been and what you’ve done gives you the foundation to look ahead to next year.

When you review your progress there might be some obvious tasks that you need to carry over into next year, things that didn’t get done or you didn’t have time for, or that are ongoing. There might also be some lessons you’ve learned or some areas that arose that you didn’t anticipate and you can build into your thinking going forward.

Set your inclusion priorities

Once you’ve reviewed the progress of the last year and all learning that has taken place, it’s time to set your priorities for next year.

The best way to think about this is by imagining what you want your workplace to feel like this time next year. Imagine future you looking back over 2022 and asking the following questions.

  • How do you want people to feel?
  • What do you want to have done?
  • What impact do you want have had?

Having imagined what you want that future you to feel like, you can do a short gap analysis to identify how you get from where you are now to where you want to be: the actions you need to take and what needs to change.

This will help you generate action areas that you can then prioritise. You might want to prioritise by urgency, you might want to choose some quick wins first, and some tasks might need to happen in a certain sequence.

The best thing to do is to start prioritising and be realistic about the time and resources you have available to make these things happen.

Align with the bigger organisational picture

Think about your organisation’s business plan for next year. How do your diversity and inclusion priorities fit into that bigger picture? How can you align and fit into the work that is already happening and the direction that the organisation is going in?

One of the risks of inclusion and diversity is that it can be seen as separate from the rest of the organisation, as a ‘nice to have’ or add on rather than something vital to the health and progress of it.

Ideally, you should work with your wider stakeholders, your senior managers, your networks, other teams, and strategic leads to build your objectives into their business plans. This builds accountability and ownership and helps to move away from the misconception that inclusion and diversity is an HR issue or only the responsibility of one person in an organisation.

By working with the whole organisation it reinforces that inclusion and diversity is business as usual and everyone’s responsibility.

Don’t forget to measure the impact of your I&D work

When you’re doing this planning remind yourself again of your destination: what organisation do you want to be in and how will it feel? This should help you think about what impact measures you’re going to put in place for your work.

In my experience, many organisations do not effectively measure the impact of their inclusion and diversity activity and this can contribute to the sense that it is optional rather than central to every aspect of an organisation.

Measure your impact and build in processes that will enable you to calculate your return on investment. Having these steps in place is vital to ensuring inclusion and diversity is embedded in your organisations DNA.

What data should I measure?

Start at the end and think about the impact that you want to have and then work out your activities from there. Think broadly in terms of what data you could use to measure your impact.

Measuring the impact of inclusion and diversity often means gathering a range of data, cross-referencing it, and comparing yourself against your baseline.

Progress measures

For example, the number of people who’ve attended training, or who are engaging with events.

Outcome measures

What’s the impact at key points in the employee life cycle? For example, are you seeing a reduction in grievances and disciplinaries? Are you seeing an increase in the diversity of your candidates both internal and external? Are you attracting a different customer base? Is the output of your teams across the organisation more innovative and successful?

Plan, measure and go for inclusion gold

Measuring your impact and evaluating your success is an important part of moving towards Gold in the Inclusive Employers Standard.

We know that gold level organisations consistently measure the impact of what they do, are often able to see the return on investment for this work, and are continually reviewing and learning from what they’ve done.

However, wherever you are in your inclusion journey, all organisations can benefit from being impact-focused and data driven. Starting with impact in the forefront of your mind helps you to think more strategically about what you’re doing and why, and this should help you to prioritise your work.

If you would like support in measuring the impact of diversity and inclusion or calculating the return on investment get in touch with your account manager. Or if you’re new to Inclusive Employers fill in our quick enquiry form.