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How to get people behind your next diversity initiative

Getting support for a project or strategy means more than getting a “yes” from peers, says consultant Samantha-Rae Dickenson. Especially when it comes to DEI.

Dickenson, a DEI specialist, helps diversity and inclusion practitioners develop and implement strategies in their organizations. She recently took to LinkedIn to talk about the common missteps she sees in executives seeking executive endorsement.

If there’s one thing HR and DEI leaders know, it’s that gaining real investment and sustained support from peers can be one of the biggest hurdles. Dickenson spoke up wealth about some of the most common pitfalls when seeking peer support. Here’s a hint: It might be time to rely a little less on data. (I know, just writing it hurts a little inside).

Understand buy in

Dickenson says the first step is to understand what buy-in really is. “Leaders and people who don’t work in DEI – even some people who work in DEI – have one idea of ​​what it means to get support and how to deal with it, and everyone else has a different one Opinion. There are a lot of gaps,” she says.

Because of this, many people focus too much on getting a “yes” from all their peers, overlooking whether or not their stakeholders’ support is truly there. Instead, she encourages leaders to step back and go through the entire exercise of creating a plan that they can share with their peers, just as they would with any other business strategy.

“There’s a process for that, and it’s not just, ‘Yes, we can do this,'” says Dickenson. “The DEI strategy is the same as a business plan or strategic planning for a company. The only difference is that we use a lens of equity and intersectionality.”

Connection to stakeholders

Once you’ve created your plan, it’s time to talk to the right stakeholders. And in most cases, that conversation should start with the CEO, advises Dickenson. Without the support of a CEO, a DEI initiative or strategy is likely to fail.

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She tells strategists and practitioners that it is crucial to have a conversation with the CEO first to better understand their vision for DEI and their level of awareness. In doing so, they can become advocates.

“The CEO has to be the one driving this and he has to support the commitment to DEI in the first place,” she says. “Doing that first and building that foundation is important.”

After getting their endorsement, you can move on to a buy-in conversation with other colleagues. When it comes to peer-to-peer support, it’s more about getting everyone on the same page. Something Dickenson does by simply having a series of conversations and leaving space for people to ask questions.

put numbers away

Many executives assume that when you approach the CEO or other executives with plans for a DEI strategy, you need to be armed with the data to build a business case. But Dickenson suggests otherwise.

Often the relevant data to argue for certain DEI initiatives is still missing, she says. Many companies have only started collecting more intersectional representation data from their employees in recent years. Therefore, she says, it can mean starting with the business case. It could also be a misstep to get too caught up in the potential return.

“Leading the business case creates the ideology that DEI is an ROI-generating thing. And it can be – a return on investment is a by-product of creating just and inclusive environments. But that’s not the point,” says Dickenson.

Instead, a balance must be struck. To achieve this, Dickenson means investing time in understanding what resonates with colleagues and who they are at their core.

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“That is essentially what DEI is about. You have to pick people up where they are and at the same time help them to develop,” she says.

I want to hear from you! What are the biggest HR challenges and priorities today? Sign up with me at [email protected]. I host 15 minute desksides with HR and DEI leaders. You can see your response in a future newsletter.

Amber Burton
[email protected]
@amberbburton

Reporter’s notebook

The most compelling data, quotes and real-world insights.

One thing I never tire of talking about is the innovative ways leaders are connecting in today’s workplace. I recently spoke to Accenture’s Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer, Ellyn Shook, about how the company is building connections and trust among its globally diverse and dispersed teams.

Accenture has been exploring distributed work long before the pandemic, but in recent years its leaders have developed more programs to better engage its employees. For Shook, creating real connections in the workplace is about fostering an environment of psychological safety and acknowledging the diverse backgrounds and experiences of employees. Her team addresses this challenge through a series of internal conversations they call “building bridges.”

“We recognize that any issue that affects how people appear at work is a workplace issue. We started bringing together issues that were important to our people… And we have two very simple rules for building these bridges [conversations] at Accenture. One is, if you don’t have the expertise to start the conversation, enlist the help of experts. And secondly, to the participants, they must be willing to listen and share.”

around the table

A federal judge blocked the workplace provisions of Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, which aimed to limit discussions of racial and gender bias in workplace diversity training. The New York Times

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Walmart will cover abortions “when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or lack of viability of the fetus,” according to an email sent to employees last week. Employees and their family members covered by Walmart health insurance plans will also be reimbursed for travel expenses if they are unable to access abortion treatment within 100 miles of their location. CNBC

– According to Byron Slosar, CEO of online recruitment platform Hive Diversity, you don’t have to be a DEI expert to make your workplace more inclusive. He advises leaders to focus more on a candidate’s unique experiences and backgrounds during the recruitment process. inc

water cooler

Everything you need to know about Fortune.

Fair layoffs. Wayfair shares fell 13% on Friday after announced plans to cut 870 employees– around 5% of the workforce. The furniture company expects to incur between $30 million and $40 million in severance and benefits costs. —Chloe Taylor

No more free COVID vaccines. The Ministry of Health plans to do this Privatization of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the year. Healthcare industry executives will meet with HHS officials for an initial planning meeting to discuss the transition on August 30. If approved, the US will likely be one of the first countries to stop offering free COVID vaccinations. —Sophie Mellor

American innovation is losing ground. A recent law signed into law by President Joe Biden scraped key immigration rules intended to streamline permanent resident status for foreign entrepreneurs and those with STEM PhDs. A wealth comment explains why failure to include these exceptions will hurt American innovation. —Dick Burke and Ray Walia

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