What to consider when building your I&D strategy

More than $6bn is spent on I&D programmes each year – so it makes sense that it was top of the agenda at our last HSM Advisory Collaboration Jam. We brought together over 150 leaders from around the world to discuss today’s diversity and inclusion challenges – and we’re excited to share them with you.

Incentivisation, motivation and engagement were the challenges top of mind
Many of our Jam participants identified engagement as an ongoing challenge, with 58% sharing that people in their organisations aren’t properly incentivised to think about I&D. There was a feeling that some people are experiencing fatigue around I&D issues and that in particular, the focus on accurate language can feel alienating and divisive. Another challenge is that the pandemic has created new aspects of inclusion – including the fear of “roomers vs Zoomers” discrimination as more people return to the office.

As we thought about solving these issues, we landed on some key insights that will help organisations as they embrace their I&D challenges.

Leverage your leaders and build an I&D narrative
Ensuring that leaders are truly engaged in making I&D a priority makes it easier to incentivise others to do the same – especially if you have a coordinated strategy for them to align around. It’s equally important to be clear about the difference between inclusion and diversity and ensure that everyone around the organisation understands why each of these things is important in its own right – it’s easy to throw the acronym I&D around without really understanding what lies beneath.

Focus on the wellbeing of your ‘I&D volunteers’
At a more practical level, some of the divisive nature of I&D programmes could be resolved by taking another look at how it is being driven within the business. In many cases, employees from marginalised groups are shouldering responsibility for raising awareness, educating others, and driving sustainable change. This not only creates additional emotional labour for them but can also add to a divisive “us” and “them” feeling around I&D initiatives. Encouraging senior sponsorship could be one way of combating this. Another method our participants felt was critical to fostering greater understanding was the creation of safe spaces – not only for sharing personal narratives but for learning in a psychologically safe and judgement-free environment.

Wherever they were on their I&D journey, participants agreed that it’s important to be structured in your approach –not just identifying the outcomes you want to achieve and breaking them down into manageable steps but also gaining a clear understanding of the challenges within your organisation and taking decisive action with appropriate sponsorship in place.

Is your organisation facing challenges with I&D? Then we’d love to help. Contact our team to learn more about our I&D framework.