DEI Initiatives are only as good as the changes they drive.
Great DEI initiatives have a measurable and sustainable impact on employee retention, engagement, satisfaction, productivity, and growth as well as the revenue, profits, product output, and other critical business objectives that those happy, productive employees drive.
The key to great, impactful diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives is to fill it with actionable, measurable activities each with a budget, timeline, and priority.
Welcome back to this multi-part series sharing ideas for actionable, measurable actions to fuel impactful DEI initiatives.
In part 1 of this series, we dove into actionable ideas for driving DEIB in Talent Attraction and Talent Acquisition. In part 2, we explored ideas for employee engagement and culture. In part 3, we walked through actionable ideas for equitable and inclusive pay and compensation.
In this part (part 4), we will explore actions to drive DEIB in…
Talent Management and Career Progression
The goal of Talent Management & Career Progression is to ensure every employee is evaluated fairly and has equal opportunity and access to career opportunities and career progression.
This could be a great priority for your organization if your organization shows signs of demographic and/or attribute preferences for career progression and mobility.
Common signs that there may be a problem are shrinking or missing demographics at higher ranks of a discipline, region, or department and/or missing or shrinking demographics switching disciplines, regions, or departments within the organization.
For example: If the entry level position for developers is 50% female, management is 40% female, and director and above is 20% female, that’s a sign that the promotion path is not equitable across genders. If 40% of customer support representatives are people of color and 80% of those who move from customer support to roles within services, sales, and training are not people of color, that’s a sign that internal mobility is not equitable.
Within talent management & career progression, there are multiple areas to consider. Here are a few actionable DEIB ideas for each:
Performance reviews are a central part of most organizations’ promotions and monetary reward structures. They also serve to help employees focus on cultivating their career and prioritize building their skills and experiences. However, not all organizations evaluate employees equitably. If your organization (or a discipline, location, or department within your organization) shows consistent and measurable differences in performance review results by demographics, consider prioritizing performance review activities. For example:
Establish an objective, structured review and ranking process. Pre-define criteria and the evaluation scale for performance reviews. Use the criteria consistently across the organization, based on discipline and rank. Train managers how to objectively evaluate candidates against the criteria as well as how to document and communicate results.
Train managers on how to deliver and follow-through with productive feedback and skill building. To ensure employees have equal opportunity to improve and grow skills, train managers on how to provide critical feedback and enable employees to progress and achieve goals. Ensure the training covers a variety of learning styles and approaches.
Career Mobility / Career Paths
There are multiple ways to cultivate a career. For some, this means progression through promotion to climb the ranks of a given discipline. But for many, it requires non-linear exploration of different disciplines that build skills and experiences. However, access to those critical career paths is not always equitable. If career mobility is dominated by specific demographics (i.e. certain demographics are disproportionately represented or missing in those changing roles within your organization), consider actions to increase equity and inclusion in career mobility. For example:
Define and communicate common career paths. With diversity comes different backgrounds and experiences including exposure to what’s possible. Where one person may have ample knowledge of different career paths and the values and experiences gained within each discipline or department, another may not realize that switching departments is even an option. Defining and communicating career paths and how to navigate them (what skills and experiences are required to progress) empowers everyone to more effectively manage their own careers.
Launch a career education program. Even with knowledge of career paths, not everyone knows the purpose, functions, activities, or requirements of the various jobs along the path. To enable employees to effectively evaluate and select among career options, educate them on the different roles. What each one does, it’s purpose and value for the organization, common tasks, common challenges, the skills and experiences they will pick up, and why those skills and experiences are valuable.
Mentorship / Champions
Mentors (those helping individuals navigate their careers) and champions (those who elevate individual’s contributions and ensure individuals are being considered for opportunities) can be powerful enablers for career progression. However, not everyone knows how these relationships work or how to establish them. If career progression in your organization is disproportionate in the demographics, consider actions that will increase accessibility and engagement with mentors and champions. For example:
Establish a bi-directional mentorship program. Build a program to match mentors and mentees based on areas of interests, goals, career progression requirements or other defined criteria. Define the purpose and goals of the program. Train both mentor and mentee on how to maximize the experience and establish the relationship as bi-directional from the beginning (i.e. both individuals teach and both individuals learn) to create a foundation of mutual respect and value. Extra credit – consider a program that cycles through multiple mentors, each with a different purpose and value to increase the diversity and breadth of the experience.
Educate and encourage champions. Anyone can be a champion for others. Champions are those that highlight someone’s achievements and represents their interests even when they are not in the room. Create a culture that celebrates champions. For example, introduce a program to nominate people for awards based on their achievements, add a standard question in planning sessions to ask ‘who else should we consider for this opportunity’, include a ‘recognition’ moment at the end of meetings to recognize people’s contributions to the effort.
And there’s more…
If your organization’s demographics shift or disappear as you rise through the ranks, consider actions that increase equity within promotions.
And, if your organization lacks the demographics representative on one level, when considering who to promote to the next level, consider actions that increase the equity of access and awareness of special projects and skill/experience development opportunities.
And, if the plans for your organization’s future still lacks the expected diversity, take a look at your succession plan and succession plan process.
And, this is only the beginning. There are actionable steps to increase DEI in talent engagement and talent acquisition, Employee Engagement and Culture, pay & compensation, driving the future workforce, and philanthropy. All of which can greatly impact the health of your organization and workforce – but those are topics for other blogs.
You can do it, we can help
Building a DEI initiative full of actionable, measurable content takes a bit more work, but has so much more return than just good intentions and some awareness training. It is the difference between wishing things would change and driving change. You can do it, we can help.
If you need help getting started or you need a guide to help identify all that potential opportunity so you can start populating an actionable DEI plan, we’ve got you covered. We, at career.place, offer everything from friendly advice to a deep dive DEI strategy workshop to explore all the exciting corners of what’s possible. Contact us today. We’d love to hear from you.