DEI 2.0:  You Have a DEI Strategic Plan - Now What?

By Keith Scott, MBA, PMP

The year 2020 will be one that will be remembered into perpetuity.  The country’s shutdown due to the COVID pandemic, the murder of George Floyd and Briana Taylor (among others), and the widespread social unrest stretched our society to the limits of consciousness.  Much like the civil rights challenges of the 60s, our country was forced to introspect and determine our actual values and moral fabric.  Government leaders at all levels – local, state, and federal – began to recognize the lack of diversity as a significant challenge and threat to the DNA of our communities and society.  Moreover, government leaders began to seek support in developing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) action plan to attack and eradicate the disparities that exist due to the lack of diversity.  Government leaders began formulating internal DEI committees composed of well-intentioned individuals eager to bring about change.  Other agencies hired a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) to lead their organization toward more diverse and equitable outcomes. In contrast, others doubled down on DEI training without understanding what areas require focus.   In fact, since 2015, organizations in both private and public sectors have spent over $8 billion per year on DEI training which led to minimal impact on the improvement of social equity.

K.L. Scott & Associates (KLS&A) has supported several government agencies developing DEI strategic action plans.  We have advised our clients that an effective action plan requires a shift from subjective principles that drive controversy and adversarial conversations to data-driven, fact-based strategic initiatives supported by metrics.  It begs the question, where is the data, and how can it be used to impact effective change?  A strategy void of measurable initiatives is useless and created as a means of compliance to show the public that we are addressing the problem.  So, you’ve made a DEI strategic plan?  Now what? 

An effective DEI strategic plan focuses on identifying initiatives that can be measured and monitored over time.  Strategic objectives must focus on two types of data – outcomes and process.  Outcome-based data provides bias indicators such as the number of women represented in management or compensation disparities between women and men.  Outcome-based data is critical for monitoring progress and is essential in a current state assessment.  Outcome-based data answers the question of whether a problem exists.  However, change is impacted by identifying, collecting, and analyzing process data.  Process-based data determines where DEI strategic initiatives should focus.   Process-based data serves as a view into policies and processes for recruitment, hiring, evaluation, promotion, and compensation decisions.  For example, suppose the organization lacks people of color. In that case, the agency must evaluate how they source minority talent, the number of potential candidates received from the talent sourcing process, and the number of individual hires that result from the recruitment efforts.  Measurable methods such as this, among others, are how government leaders bring real change through an effective action plan. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, 77% of successful strategic plans are measured and monitored daily through a time-based grouping of tactics and performance reporting through executive dashboards.  This gives life to the adage “we treasure what we measure.”  If we genuinely aspire for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive society, your DEI strategy must be measurable and forward-focused – DEI 2.0.

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