3 ways to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion across your business
Successful DEI strategies use data to inform priorities, measure progress and hold leaders accountable.
Building a sustainable diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy requires work across your organization. This means looking at all business decisions, processes, policies and practices through a DEI lens, says Brian Lamb, Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase.
“Driving long-term change must include product development, service delivery, representation at higher levels, and a commitment to innovate and grow,” he says.
What’s in a sustainable DEI strategy?
A mature, sustainable DEI strategy is more than a long-term strategy, Lamb says, and should include:
- Organizational alignment with senior leadership and internal stakeholders
- Use of robust data and technology to set DEI strategies, develop initiatives and drive outcomes
- Supply chain relationships with diverse suppliers, plus resources to help them grow
- Public transparency and external reporting on metrics such as current representation and supplier diversity
- External collaborations with key nonprofits, as well as consumer advocacy, civil rights and human rights organizations
“Mature doesn’t in any way mean you are done improving and amplifying impact,” Lamb says. So it’s especially important to evaluate your work with a focus on three elements: data, transparency and accountability.
Data is the building block for your DEI strategy and critical to measuring your progress.
DEI strategies should feature:
- Clear objectives
- Goals connected to each objective
- A detailed action plan to achieve goals
- A timeline and metrics to quantify progress
Quantitative DEI data
Numbers can tell the story of your company’s current DEI initiatives and their progress, making them a good measure of your goals.
For example, JPMorgan Chase’s DEI strategy focuses on four areas:
- Careers and skills
- Business growth and entrepreneurship
- Financial health and focus areas
- Community development
“We can point to specific impact metrics for each focus area,” Lamb says. “For example, the loans we provide for minority- and women-owned businesses tie to business growth and entrepreneurship, and the affordable housing financing ties to community development.”
Data and key performance indicators (KPIs) can help your organization answer questions such as:
- Do we have the right representation at all levels of the company?
- What’s our trajectory?
- What’s our quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year progress?
Qualitative DEI data
Qualitative data can be especially important when examining the equity and inclusion aspects of your strategy.
“We think it’s important to be data-driven, but it is equally helpful to understand how employees feel,” Lamb says. Look for feedback on questions about diverse team members’ experiences at your company, such as:
- How do women feel about their opportunities for upward mobility?
- Are managers creating an environment that’s inclusive of employees with disabilities or who are veterans?
- Do employees from different backgrounds feel they have equitable opportunities?
Answers to questions like these can help your organization see where it has a chance to increase employees’ sense of belonging. There are many ways to gauge how employees and clients alike feel about your business, including feedback from listening sessions with employee resource groups and community organizations.
You should provide key stakeholders with a line of sight into your work, as you would with any other area of your business, regularly reporting on your progress, commitments and performance with stakeholders.
Integrating your DEI strategy into natural business cycles can help you better align your strategy with the business, Lamb says. It also presents an opportunity to assess your work alongside your company’s other strategic priorities.
How you share DEI data and progress is up to you. JPMorgan Chase, for example, recently provided a public update on its five-year, $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity—one year into the effort—and plans to share updates annually. You can also share DEI data and progress via your shareholders letter and annual environmental, social and governance (ESG) reports or other communications.
Brian Lamb, Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase
Organizations should hold themselves accountable for achieving DEI objectives.
You may want to ask yourself questions about your organization’s structure and metrics, such as:
- Is your company organized in a way that allows you to achieve your DEI goals?
- Do you have DEI leadership that’s engaged? Do DEI initiatives operate in rhythm with the business?
- Are all areas of the businesses looking through a DEI lens, weaving DEI into their decision-making and policies and practices? Is there a way for you to inspect that?
- Are there data and insights that demonstrate that your business is making progress on DEI goals?
- Are senior leaders held accountable for making that progress?
“Businesses can’t define themselves as mature unless they’re able to demonstrate that they use data to inform their strategies and priorities, inspect their progress, and hold their leaders accountable,” Lamb says.
DEI strategies built to last
If you want to implement a sustainable, comprehensive DEI program, you should treat it like any other part of the business. Work to set goals and tie them to action plans, timelines and metrics. Examine data to inform your trajectory and how you’re performing against expectations. Focus on transparency when examining your progress, commitments and performance—especially with your stakeholders: employees, clients and communities.
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