Where on the diversity journey is your organisation?

I’m often asked by companies to help them prioritise what they should do next when it comes to diversity and inclusion. This depends on where they are on their diversity journey. To help identify how far they have come, I have developed a seven-step Diversity Journey Roadmap(S). Here are the first four steps:

  1. Don’t Get It

This step is rare nowadays. It describes organisations that really don’t see the benefit of diversity and inclusion and think there’s nothing wrong with their homogenous approach to business. If you ask me, those who find themselves at this stage have a limited shelf life. The world is changing too much to fully ignore the need for diversity and inclusion.

  1. Window Dressing

Organisations that understand the need to be seen as supportive of diversity and inclusion will find themselves here. This step is evidenced by spending resources on awards and recognition, on benchmarking exercises in order to be seen as committed, for the benefit of clients and employees – current and future. Organisations at this stage don’t believe there’s much to be gained from a diverse and inclusive culture and aren’t interested in investing in a framework that will ultimately lead there.

  1. Let’s Fix It!

At this stage of the roadmap, an organisation has identified a problem: lack of diversity. It doesn’t entirely believe that there’s much to be gained from it but it has recognised that diversity is important to its workforce and clients and genuinely wants to fix the problem. The challenge, however, is that when we view diversity as a problem to be solved, we apply temporary solutions that don’t permeate culture. An example of this might be to ‘project-manage’ the solution by giving responsibility for it to one person (often one of the few senior women, irrespective of how she might feel about it) with an allocated budget, but no real resources or powers to do what’s necessary.

  1. See Diversity as an Opportunity

This is the step at which organisations finally begin to understand that diversity and inclusion is a business prerogative – not a “nice to have” project or an isolated problem. This is when they start approaching it in the same way as they would any business opportunity by embedding it into the entire business – from business strategy, to marketing, to business development, to training, talent management, recruitment and onboarding. It is only when diversity and inclusion permeate every aspect of business – when it begins to form part of the organisational fabric – that it also starts producing the accompanying benefits. These begin with employees feeling that they belong: they are encouraged to voice their different perspectives without fear of creating a bit of friction; they are not afraid to respectfully disagree with other views and ideas and are genuinely engaged and motivated to contribute fully and authentically. At this stage, the full benefits of diversity and inclusion can be harnessed. This is when an organisation becomes enabled to tap into the needs of its stakeholders and create new products, services and processes that respond to those needs. This is when a culture of diversity and inclusion can give an organisation a competitive edge.

At which step is your organisation? Most find themselves between stage two (if they are honest with themselves) and four. Take a look at the full roadmap here.

If you would like to find out what steps to take to move to the next stage, we can help. Email us to speak to us about your diversity and inclusion aspirations.