The Diversity Vision Statement: What? And Why?
Sure, you know you need to improve diversity and inclusion practices within your organization in order to offer more robust products & services, have fewer blind spots, and develop a more innovative culture—and also because it’s the right thing to do. But now you need the right words to express your goal to the organization. Without buy-in and commitment at every level, you run the risk of not engaging all stakeholders…and not achieving your D&I goals.
We recommend writing a diversity vision statement. This statement both compels readers to engage communicates strategy around the three pillars of diversity and inclusion: workforce, workplace, and marketplace.
- Workforce: the talents, skills, perspectives, and aggregate intellectual capital that employee diversity can bring to an organization
- Workplace: the performance, productivity, energy, and dedication a culture of inclusion can encourage and inspire.
- Marketplace: the competitive advantage a diverse and inclusive organization has through its ability to attract top talent and connect with a demographically broad range of clients.
There are many great examples to follow. Following are a few excerpts from the diversity vision and mission statements of leading organizations:
- McKinsey & Company: “At McKinsey, inclusion and diversity are critical to achieving our dual mission—to help our clients make substantial, lasting performance improvements and to build a firm that attracts, develops, excites, and retains exceptional people.”
- Coca-Cola, Inc.: “Diversity is at the heart of our business. We strive to create a work environment that provides all our associates equal access to information, development and opportunity. By building an inclusive workplace environment, we seek to leverage our global team of associates, which is rich in diverse people, talent and ideas. We see diversity as more than just policies and practices. It is an integral part of who we are as a company, how we operate and how we see our future. As a global business, our ability to understand, embrace and operate in a multicultural world — both in the marketplace and in the workplace — is critical to our long-term sustainability and, specifically, impacts our ability to meet our 2020 Vision People goals.”
- At Deloitte Consulting LLP: “Driving strength through diversity and cultivating an environment where leaders thrive are key components of our Inclusion strategy. Deloitte is committed to recruiting, developing, and promoting a diverse workforce while providing unique opportunities and career paths for our people.”
- Johnson & Johnson: “Diversity is a central part of the cultures across the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. It’s a key to our people’s passion for improving the health and well-being of people the world over. Furthermore, our commitment to diversity and inclusion is deeply rooted in the values instilled by Our Credo and is exemplified in a number of our companies’ programs and activities.We recognize that differences in age, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, physical ability, thinking style and background bring richness to our work environments. Such differences help us connect better with the health needs of people in communities around the world. We believe that attracting, developing and retaining a base of employees that reflects the diversity of our customers is essential to our success. We also believe success hinges on relationships with diverse professional and patient organizations, civic groups and suppliers.”
An organization that is genuinely committed to diversity and inclusion (or ‘D&I’) understands that the presence of visible diversity does not equate to being diverse and inclusive. A meaningful commitment to D&I requires dual and concurrent focus on individual behaviors and organizational systems. Openness to alternative ways of approaching a task or an issue, revisions to work processes, and flexibility in scheduling are all hallmarks of a diverse and inclusive organization. That’s why we recommend incorporating inclusion into the wording and concepts. Inclusion goes beyond making people feel comfortable and treating them the right way; it means proactively seeking employees with differences represented by a variety of dimensions including demographics, thinking style, behaviors, work style, and more, because of the value these differences bring to what an organization does and how it does it.
Five Ways to Put the Diversity Vision Statement into Action:
- Integrate D&I into your business strategy, including workforce development, succession planning, client relationships, work methodologies, etc.
- Establish metrics around recruitment, hiring, retention, promotion, career development, and succession planning. These may be framed in terms of percentages, or in concrete numbers. Include timelines and target dates. Tie performance evaluations, compensation, promotions, and other tangible rewards to these metrics.
- Educate Executives and Senior Leadership on D&I. Focus on conceptual frameworks and how to actualize and institutionalize them.
- Develop a communication plan that makes your commitment to D&I clear, prominent, insistent, and ubiquitous. Make being a Leader synonymous with being a Champion of D&I.
- Ensure that the business case for D&I is disseminated and understood throughout the organization.
The act of fully integrating D&I means that organizational approaches need to be developed to navigate the tension between consistency and innovation, and to find the balance between established and alternative practices. No one said it would be easy. But it can be done.