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The formula for COMPELLING diversity, equity, and inclusion goals

“How do we create truly compelling goals?”

Good question.

The formula is simple: goals must be CLEAR, MEASURABLE, COMPELLING, and REASONABLE.

But, of course, ‘simple’ does not always apply to the details.

The individual asking the question had what they thought were compelling goals – they were aligned to the organization’s stance on DEI, supported the DEI initiative, and they were the right thing to do. But, if they were truly compelling, why wasn’t the individual getting any traction? No budget, no resources, and no real attention or priority. It was almost as though the organization wasn’t taking the initiative seriously…

Sound familiar?

While the scenario is frustratingly familiar, the results don’t have to be.

Here’s how to create truly compelling goals.

Align to what drives THEM (not you)

For many DEI initiatives, rather than already having a budget and resources, you need to convince stakeholders to release what you need to accomplish your goals. These stakeholders could be department heads, the C-suite, a board or whoever else is part of that decision process.

To them, a compelling goal drives what they must accomplish, not what you want to accomplish.

That doesn’t mean you won’t accomplish what you need, you just have to show how your efforts will also be in their best interests.

To do this, answer the following questions.

1. Who are the stakeholders?

This includes:

  • The decision makers: those who approves activities, budgets, and resources

  • The influencers: those the decision makers listen to in order to help make decisions

  • The road blockers: those who may oppose the requests. These are usually those who are competing for the same resources, budget, and priorities or those who have conflicting interests

2. What are the stakeholder’s drivers?

This includes the drivers behind both rewards and risks.

  • Rewards: for example - how they are compensated, what metrics are tied to their bonus or promotion, what accomplishments are celebrated

  • Risks: for example - what failures must they avoid to protect their position or their chances of promotion/raise/bonus

3. What are the stakeholder’s motivations

Based on drivers, what are the stakeholders motivated to do or support?

For example, if a driver is lowering costs of Talent Acquisition, then they will be motivated to support activities that lower costs and oppose activities that increase costs.

For example, if a driver is increasing revenue, they will be motivated to support initiatives that feed customer acquisition and customer retention efforts such as sales, marketing, and customer success.

The more the goals for the DEI imitative (or any initiative) are aligned with the motivations of the stakeholders, the more likely those stakeholders will support your initiative. Look for any way to connect or expand your DEI goals to encompass the needs of your stakeholders.

Align to the organization mission, values, and priorities

For many organizations, initiatives are plentiful. There are so many great ideas, great intentions, and great opportunity. At the same time, there’s no shortage of fuel for rounds and rounds of initiatives, special projects, committees, etc. Of course, while the ideas and opportunities are endless, budgets and resources are not. Inevitably, many of these programs get stuck in the discussion phase or teeter out before making much impact.

To stand out in the crowd, or to keep the momentum, tie the DEI goals to the core mission, values, and priorities of the organization. Activities that align to them will be prioritized over those that don’t.

Connect the dots

Compelling goals often have multiple levels – supporting the initiative, the stakeholders, and the organization. However, not all of these levels are obvious if they aren’t spelled out. Don’t assume that your audience will see why your goal feeds their priorities or the organization mission. Connect the dots, spell it out, take them through the journey [favorite metaphor for ‘show them’ here].

For example, the goal may be to “increase women in leadership by 20%” which feeds the DEI initiative of “increasing diversity at all levels to make a more productive and inclusive workplace that everyone wants to join.”

So, if a stakeholder is motivated by cost of the talent acquisition process – show how increasing the number of women will drive retention and lower costs. Or, for a more direct route, show how the solutions for increasing women by removing bias in the hiring process (such as using will also reduce the costs of hiring.

And, if the company mission is to “be the Earth’s most customer-centric company”, show how more women in leadership will result in a more productive, creative organization that is better equipped to cater to the needs of a wider array of customers.

Bringing it all together

Within most organizations, there are always competing priorities and programs. Beating the competition for resources and attention requires something truly compelling.

Especially when it is for a program that is not core to the organization (such as building, selling, and supporting product).

Therefore, compelling goals are more than just accomplishing the initiative. They must also drive success for the organization and the stakeholders either directly or indirectly. When presenting goals to get buy-in and support, show how the goals are not just in your best interest, but also in the best interest of the stakeholders and the organization and connect the dots to make it clear how everything aligns.




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