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What’s On Your DEI Agenda for 2023?

Writing for Chief Executive, Joan C. Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings Law, says: “If you had a serious problem with your supply chain, you wouldn’t try to solve it with a heartfelt email.”

And yet, that’s what many companies do when it comes to forwarding their DEI agenda. They position DEI as “the right” thing to do and appeal to employees’ sense of fairness and personal ethics to move forward. But while many employees certainly are fair, have strong personal ethics, and are devoted to contributing to a strong DEI culture, these exhortations simply aren’t enough.

Places to Focus in 2023

Williams offers suggestions for what organizations should be doing to help achieve success with their DEI efforts:

  • Give someone the authority and resources they need to solve the problem. Note that this goes beyond simply hiring a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) and thinking “problem solved!”

  • Treat diversity as a business goal. We’ve been saying this for decades now; yet too many organizations still fail to actually treat DEI as the business imperative it is.

  • Use metrics and accountability. Companies shouldn’t just apply tactics and feel they’re making progress. They need to have measurable—and meaningful—metrics to help them track what progress, if any, they’re making.

  • Take the bias out of your HR systems. Williams offers a prime example: if the talent pool of job candidates you’re bringing in for key positions lacks diversity, there’s already bias in the system.

  • Change the incentive and capacity of middle management. Middle managers are the key to ensuring that DEI goals are taken seriously and that real progress is made. Yet too often they don’t have the knowledge, skills, wherewithal, or commitment to really make things happen.

  • Restructure access to opportunities. Make sure you have a diverse cadre of staff members taking on key assignments, participating in leadership develop programs, and being groomed for higher level positions.

These are good factors to focus on. But there are a few things we would add to this list.

Important “To Do’s” to Achieve Your DEI Objectives in 2023

Here’s what we suggest you have on your DEI agenda for 2023.

  • Practice conscious inclusion. What does that mean? It means ensuring that senior leaders, managers, supervisors, and everyone in a position to make employee decisions thinks consciously about how they can be more inclusive in that process. Putting together a work team for a plum assignment? What level of diversity have you built into that team? Selecting participants for a leadership development activity? How diverse are these participants?

  • Commit to intentional talent development. This starts at the point of bringing candidates in for interviews for jobs at every level of the organization. If you’re not populating a diverse pipeline, but the time you fill top positions you won’t have any diverse talent to draw from.

  • Consciously seek input from everyone—even, and especially, those who have a tendency to sit back and not contribute. This doesn’t apply only to women and people of color, but to everyone who fails to raise their hands. They may fail to raise their hands because their hands have been slapped or ignored in the past.

  • Embrace your bias. If you breathe, you have bias. It’s simply human nature. Rather than attempting to convince others, and yourself, that you don’t have biases, recognize, embrace and work to minimize or erase those biases.

As we move into 2023, take the time to consider why your DEI efforts may not be achieving the impact you had hoped for. Set a new DEI agenda for the new year—one that’s based on a solid foundation of conscious inclusion and the commitment to intentional talent development.

When 2023 draws to an end, what DEI results do you hope to see?

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Are you tired of inclusion, diversity and equity learning that doesn't link to business? Are you tired of tactics that don’t drive business results? InclusionINC has inclusion and strategic consulting that link inclusion to employee engagement, productivity, innovation and retention, moving inclusion beyond tactics to a critical business strategy.


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