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Three MUST haves to turn feedback into effective DEI actions

One of the core values of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (and other variants) initiatives is to respect and empower every voice. With Diversity we are here, with Equity we matter, with Inclusion we are heard, and with Belonging we drive and influence.

What better way to empower and respect every voice than to ask for feedback?

However, if using feedback as part of DEI (or at all), there are three things you must do or it could end up backfiring, leaving a bitter taste of disrespect and disinterest.

Here are the three MUSTS of feedback as an effective DEI action.

1) Communicate the purpose and value

Before requesting any feedback, whether it’s a two-minute survey or an extensive review, start by explaining what the feedback is for and why it matters. By showing how you will value their input up front, you establish a sense of respect and appreciation for any ideas shared.

Include details such as if the feedback is anonymous or not, if there will be follow-up questions, and what the feedback will be used to do.

End the communication with a thank you for their time and input.

The communication can be short (a couple of sentences will usually do), but it must be sincere.

2) Show you are listening

Saying “thank you” and then filing the feedback into some physical or virtual folder is not listening and it certainly isn’t demonstrating that you’ve heard or care what the respondents have shared.

Show that you’re actually listening by sharing the results of the feedback effort. This can be in the form of average scores, most frequent suggestions, or other summary information.

If the feedback is not anonymous, give credit to those who provided the ideas and insights that you find valuable and include why those ideas and insights are valuable.

If the feedback is from someone external, such as candidates during a process, send a follow-up thank you message with the summary of findings. A single graph and a couple of sentences will go a long way with feeling like their input mattered.

3) Show the results

More powerful than showing you are listening is showing that what was said makes a difference. What actions are you taking due to the feedback?

Communicate what you are doing with the feedback, how things are changing, what improvements were made because they took the time to give you ideas. By providing the ‘now what’ from the feedback, you are not just saying their voice matters, you are proving it.

Not only does sharing the ‘now what’ empower the voices of all who share (living that core value of DEI) it also reinforces the purpose of feedback – for continuous process improvement.

Bringing it all together.

Turn your feedback efforts into DEI actions that live the values of empowerment and respect by informing participants of the value and importance of their voice, proving you are listening, and demonstrating that they are making a difference.

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