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Top Strategies to Operationalize DEI: A Systemic Review of Workforce, Workplace & Marketplace

When it comes to making organizational change in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, not everyone has heard about the approach that gets results: an IBIS system-wide assessment.

A recent webinar featured IBIS senior consultants Dr. Enin Rudel and Karen Young in conversation with leaders from two large organizations that have repeated the IBIS assessment process over years, measuring gaps and finding successes over time.

Long-time IBIS clients Brad Wright, President and CEO of Cambridge Systematics and Carlene Alexander, AVP of Global DEI at UNFCU shared their respective experiences with the audience and showcased what makes the assessment process so effective.

The IBIS assessment relies on these Top Five Strategies for a systemic approach to operationalize and embed DEI:

  1. Leadership Buy-in and Engagement
  2. Engaging the organization – communication, communication, communication
  3. Utilizing the Inclusive Organizational Framework (systemic approach)
  4. Combination of Qualitative and Quantitative Data Collection
  5. Continuously measuring progress over time (alignment to organization’s metrics)

Leadership Engagement

Assessments are a powerful tool that rest on a foundation of trust and goodwill from leaders. While leaders are not needed to be DEI experts, they play a vital role in the success of the organization’s participation rate.

“Earning buy-in from leadership is critically important as it increases the likelihood that others will follow,” said Brad Wright. “This group needs to set the tone in terms of “living our values.” If our leaders are exhibiting behaviors that run counter to the firm’s values, it is highly corrosive and leads to distrust.”

Engaging the Organization

“We try to generate a lot of communication about the assessment in a variety of ways,” said Carlene Alexander. “For instance, focus groups create unique opportunities for individuals with shared identities to talk about the issues that matter most to them. I personally persistently encourage people to participate
and we use the feedback and info people have given us to create change. It is important to create spaces where all of our employees can be heard; where all voices are represented.”

Utilizing the Inclusive Organizational Framework

The Inclusive Organizational Framework, also known as the IOF, is a cutting-edge diagnostic tool developed by IBIS, gives organizations a clear appraisal of how thoroughly they have embedded Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in their policies, procedures, and programs, and what changes are needed to ensure DEI success. Using over 400 best and emerging practices drawn from across all industries, the IOF helps organizations identify what they are doing well to increase DEI, what needs improving, and what additionally they need to do to build their competitive advantage.

Combination of Qualitative and Quantitative Data Collection

IBIS employs a unique blend of data from surveys and quotes from employees to measure and share accurate, meaningful and actionable items impacting the culture of DEI across the organization. It allows us to:

  • Investigate disparities in employee experiences across demographic groups
  • Identify specific policies, programs and practices which may be inhibiting DEI in 14 key organizational areas
  • Develop and implement changes to align with industry best and emerging practices

Continuously Measuring Progress Over Time

“We have built a strategic plan around the concerns that have surfaced in our assessments, and the plan contains specific actions/owners/timelines,” said Wright, reflecting on Cambridge Systematics. “We use the results of the bi-annual assessments to help us set and rationalize our priorities.”

Alexander concurred, emphasizing that it takes time to see results. “What gets measured gets done!” she said. “It has taken several assessments but progress is being seen on an organization-wide level.”

Reach out to us today to learn more about assessments and see how they can fit your organization.