Diversity & Inclusion Council: Case Study
Diversity & Inclusion Councils, Affinity Groups and Employee Resource Groups have been in place for more than 30 years and exist in 90% of Fortune 500 firms. In U.S. corporations, 8.5% of our nation’s workforce are members of employee resource groups (ERGs) and attend ERG held or sponsored events on a regular basis. 1
A Diversity & Inclusion Council and other similar employee groups are widely used mechanisms for creating organizational change and help provide focus to D&I initiatives. They have an opportunity to influence organizational culture. D&I Councils are typically made up of leaders who are influential, well respected and have the connections and ability to get things done. They ensure that the D&I strategy is aligned to the core organizational objectives.
Diversity and Inclusion Council Best Practices
According to Diversity Inc., the best practices that result in successful and sustainable D&I Councils include:
- CEO is the leader of the Diversity and Inclusion Council
- Council meets frequently – usually monthly or quarterly
- Council establishes metrics and goals
- Council has rotational positions for leaders of employee resource groups
- Council members may be mentors
- Council members are provided developmental opportunities. 2
The proof of the ROI and the benefits of D&I is an on-going challenge. Diversity and Inclusion Councils and other associate groups are tasked with creating the D&I Strategy that will have measurable outcomes.
To be effective, the first step is to understand the organization’s current culture. Before selecting an assessment tool, it is important to understand what the organization wants and needs to know. Many organizations embed culture questions into existing employee engagement surveys. However, to truly measure the organizational culture related to D&I, it is important to have an instrument that focuses specifically on D&I. The Spectra Diversity and Inclusion Profile™ provides a snapshot of what the organization and everyone may need to focus on to create a culture of respect and inclusion.
Client: Not-for-Profit with ~ 600 employees
Consultant: Jonamay Lambert & Associates
The organization had a strong focus on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) for the past five years. A D&I Executive Steering Committee comprised of senior leaders and a D&I Council was in place. Ongoing D&I education was offered to all employees.
Due to other competing priorities, D&I became less of a strategic priority and the D&I Executive Steering Committee disbanded. While the D&I Council remained intact, they lost support, had little influence and offered no real D&I initiatives.
With a change of CEO and a new VP of Human Resources (HR), there was a renewed commitment to D&I. Based on previous experience, the CEO realized the importance of not only having a diverse workforce but the necessity of having a culture of inclusion. Given the organization was going through a culture change, it was a perfect time to position D&I as part of the change efforts.
- To expand and reinvigorate the D&I Council
- To assess Council Members perceptions of the organizational culture
- To test a D&I assessment tool for future use with all employees
- To use assessment data to inform the D&I Strategy
- To engage the Council Members in constructive debate and dialogue
With the support of the new VP of HR, the D&I Council expanded membership and recruited senior leaders to serve as an advisory board. A formal charter was created and five D&I Council Sub-Committees were formed, each focusing on an important D&I initiative.
The D&I Council members took the Spectra Diversity and Inclusion Profile™ to gain insight into two areas:
- Individual: Data showing self in relation to diversity and inclusion: Beliefs and Interpersonal Skills
- Organization: Data showing employees’, anonymous and consolidated, responses in relation to the organization: Management, Culture and Policies, Practices and Procedures
- All D&I Council members completed the self-assessment
- A snapshot of the D&I Council Members perceptions of current organization was presented and discussed
- The analysis showed differences in opinions based on individual D&I Council Member’s experiences within the existing culture which led to meaningful discussion
- The report identified areas to enhance/develop D&I competence and capabilities of Council Members
- Data from the report was used to direct and guide the D&I Strategy
An organization that recognizes how D&I directly impacts employee engagement and innovation shows a forward thinking, inclusive organization. It is always best to “begin with the end in mind.” Gaining a clear picture of the current culture provides a snapshot and baseline which can be used to measure future progress.
Using a validated assessment tool, like the Spectra Diversity and Inclusion Profile™, provides a clear picture of the organization’s D&I strengths and challenges. Because of the unique feature of assessing organizational culture and individual competencies, it offers developmental opportunities for both the organization and individual to become more inclusive and culturally competent.
Today there is much more focus on measuring the impact of D&I to demonstrate the business case. While more companies are measuring D&I, it’s important to remember that it’s not a “one size fits all” approach. Organizations will approach measurement of D&I in different ways and at their own pace. It may begin with something as simple as measuring D&I training or the impact of Diversity and Inclusion Councils, ERGs and other associate groups. With more evidence of the impact D&I has on organizational business objectives and outcomes, the more leaders will support and buy-in to D&I.
Best Practice Recommendations 3
- Link Diversity and Inclusion Metrics to Business Outcomes
- Align the diversity and inclusion strategy and metrics with the organization’s business goals and outcome. All other core practices will flow.
- Diversity and inclusion metrics should be aligned with the most critical organizational goals.
- Leverage the Power of Engagement
- Engagement is metric best-practice organizations use.
- They know what drives employees are engaged and deliver excellent work.
- Insist on Accountability
- Conduct a cultural assessment to establish a baseline and/or external benchmark data before launching a diversity and inclusion initiative.
- Link diversity and inclusion measurement with the current management dashboard.
- Take action after measuring.
- Conduct a root-cause analysis to define successful solutions.
- Assure employees understand behavioral expectations and continue to monitor and support.
- Move Beyond Representation
- Continue to monitor compliance goals and requirements and look for other sources of measuring diversity and inclusion success.
- Use inclusion to implement management practices to achieve substantial business goals are obtained.
For information about how the Spectra Diversity and Inclusion Profile could work for you, please contact Spectra Diversity Partner Patricia Jesperson.