Creating a successful D&I strategy

A successful and sustainable D&I strategy requires a comprehensive approach that addresses various aspects of organisational culture, policies, and practices. Establishing accountability is a key lever to ensure D&I is properly prioritised.

Through the Tech Talent Charter's annual D&I survey, we have analysed hundreds of D&I strategies and from these, created a template D&I strategy that reflects what the majority of employers are doing. View the template D&I plan.

Employer recommendations

Measure where you're at. Diversity is easier to measure than inclusion as this relates to the demographics and the makeup of the workforce (gender, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background). When it comes to inclusion, it's about how people feel. Conduct a comprehensive assessment of your current D&I policies, practices, and culture- see Gartner's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Metrics to Track and Report.  You can use surveys, interviews, focus groups, data analysis, and external benchmarks to gather feedback and insights from your employees, customers, partners, and stakeholders. Identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the gaps and opportunities for improvement.

➖Gain a nuanced understanding of root causes.

Design a data based strategy to align senior leaders, people manager and employees.

Invest in D&I with appropriate budget and resources.

Align D&I strategy with the overall organisation strategy. It is critical to position D&I as a business focus (not HR topic) aligned to organisational mission and values. 

Reframe D&I as a method to make better decisions.  Highlight that good D&I practice will help managers deal with increasing stress and less time, rather than it being an extra thing to do that costs time and money. Listen to more on this concept in Humans at Work: Making Inclusion Works by Michael Glazer interviewing Stephen Frost.

Hold senior leaders accountable for progress and metrics. Outline clear expectations for what the organisation expects from leaders. Ensure there is adequate training and coaching, where necessary, to ensure leaders can execute on the expectations set. Reinforcement at  interpersonal and operational level so expectations are integrated into the work leaders are already doing. Ensure there’s a continuum of actions ranging from rewards to course-corrective measures to drive consistency of inclusive behaviour.

➖Embed D&I within organisational systems and processes. For example, your performance management and reward system should include key performance indicators that support D&I; an outline of expectations for people management roles in D&I programmes and interventions; identification of inclusive leadership behaviours that demonstrate alignment with D&I; and rewards for middle managers, for example, a salary increase or bonus, or public praise or award.

➖Rigorously monitor and track progress against goals, sharing progress against goals using a regular mechanism with leadership teams. 'Many companies don’t do this with DEI. For instance, they don’t define the specific leading indicators and ultimate outcomes that they hope the initiative will change—and thus, they don’t have the data to discuss if it’s working, how it might be improved, or if the results can be accelerated. It’s one thing to be able to cite the number of people who took part in an initiative, but it’s far more meaningful to be able to track details like “people who participated in the program were promoted twice as often as those who did not,” or “participants stayed with the company at a 40 percent higher rate.” Here, too, you need to be patient. There’s going to be a period of time where you see more progress on the leading indicators than you do on the ultimate outcomes that you’re trying to achieve. But if you stick with it and start to see a real ROI, it becomes easier to commit for the long run—and getting DEI right is definitely a project for the long run', Five ways to drive successful DEI initiatives, McKinsey.

➖Adopt a skills-first approach to talent acquisition and development. Skills-based hiring moves beyond degrees and job titles on résumés to attract a broader and more diverse set of applicants. McKinsey says 'Adopting a skills-based approach could introduce organisations to an untapped talent pool of workers who are STARs (skilled through alternative routes)'. A skills-based approach to development allows organisations to create deliberate pathways based on the skills an employee already has and bridge the skills gap to the next role. Employers can proactively prepare for that progression: if employers know which skills are needed for each role in their organisation, they can identify the skills gaps and overlaps between lower-level and higher-level positions and create training and transition plans to help employees progress internally.

➖Involve senior leaders and ask them to champion D&I, sharing their own experiences and explaining their personal case for D&I / authentic stories of how D&I can drive change, in the same way that you would ask a senior leader to talk about their personal journey to their position in the organisation. It helps to hear leaders discussing the challenges they’ve faced with D&I and what they are personally doing.

➖Invitate rather than mandate participation. Foster engagement and enthusiasm rather than requiring employees to take part in events or intiatives or to receive training they do not want.

➖Think intersectionally. Someone who belongs to a racial minority group may also be part of the LGBTQ+ community, be living with a disability, & be transgender and will have challenges unique to them. Conduct D&I data analysis along multiple axes of identity and breakdown data to identify the more subtle dynamics at play for different individuals at various levels and where their individual pain points lie. Understand the needs of employees who suffer the most ‘adverse impact’ by unpicking the data. 

➖Communicate effectively the aims of the strategy and related interventions and what it will entail. Take time to collaborate with the communications team to develop a strategy that gets employees and leaders excited about the strategy. Clearly link the strategy aims to your organisation’s vision.

➖Offer personalised feedback. Motivation to act increases when we receive clear feedback on our strengths and areas for development. Provide individuals insight into their inclusivity, transforming abstract concepts into tangible behaviours for improvement.

➖Regularly share the measurable impact that D&I has had on leadership decision making, winning work or new customers, employee engagement and retention, innovation and on the overall business strategy.

Drive competition by publicly celebrating leaders and business areas that are leading change to drive action. Share successes through newsletters, testimonials, town hall briefings, etc.

Create a “speak up” culture, call out behaviours that can make people feel excluded. Doing so means that everyone’s voice is heard, and they feel that their contribution matters.

Encourage and enable employees to share their perspectives, experiences, and ideas, and to participate in D&I programmes and activity. Listen to their feedback and suggestions, and act on them.

Further information