In this blog post, SBX Guest Blog Contributor, The QuakeLab, breaks down how to build an internal DEI committee within your organization through five key points. Check it out!

Raise your hand if you’re on a DEI committee? Raise your hand if you don’t actually know you’re supposed to be doing? Ok, last one, raise your hand if you literally do not have an extra second of your work day to dedicate to figuring this out?

I feel your pain – trust me. The QuakeLab team talks to a lot of folks all wondering what they’re supposed to be doing next! The excitement and momentum of forming a working body, and making an impact begins to dissipate and you’re left with a monthly meeting on your calendar that you dread, or that everyone keeps postponing because no one has the time!

We’re here to help.

Before we jump into it, a quick disclaimer: If you don’t have support from decision makers in your organization, and they aren’t willing to give you a reasonable amount of resources, nothing you do will be as impactful as you want it to be. 

Alright, let’s jump into it!

We hope you’ll use the information below as a guiding light to how you can form and maintain your DEI committee, body or team in order to tackle your inclusion challenges. The information will be broken down into five sections:

  1. Outline your mandate

  2. Negotiate your resources

  3. Run an assessment and Design your plan

  4. Operationalize and Test

  5. Strategize for the next year

OUTLINE YOUR MANDATE

If you set out to solve racism, or “tackle inequality, and be more inclusive”, you’re tasking your small, volunteer team with solving global hunger, curing cancer and solving world peace – all by noon. It’s important to be realistic about your mandate and cast your net in a way that sets you up for success. So get specific:

  • Figure out the skills you have on the table, what do folks know how to do and how can they practically support your efforts;

  • It’s okay not to have an intensive ‘to do’ list – select 3 – 5 goals for this committee and keep things simple;

  • Understand who is in your organization and the resources they need. This doesn’t mean you will ignore other opportunities to make change in your organization. It just means you will prioritize the people who are in your organization rather than prioritizing the needs of an aspirational staff.

NEGOTIATE YOUR RESOURCES

Think of forming this body the way you form a communications team, finance team or management team. There needs to be clarity about the purpose of this team or department, but most importantly, the work needs to be well resourced.

Chances are part of the reason you’re creating the DEI committee is  because your organization doesn’t have the capital to invest in a consultant for a long term project. So there will be some restrictions, however it’s absolutely essential to, at the very least, have an understanding of what you have access to – even if it’s small. Also keep in mind, resources are not just money. We define resources as time, labour and capital. Here’s how to get this going:

  • Try to negotiate a budget line that will continue to be included in future budgets; 

  • Consider the fact that you are asking members of your team to take on additional work above their current workload. You are also asking them to commit their time, labour and expertise. This is especially important if your committee is made up of marginalized individuals. Create parameters around how much time and labour might be required and what compensation may look like (monetary and non-monetary);

  • Related to the point above, each member of you team should get an opportunity to assess their current workload and make some clear requests for concessions to be made around their current deliverables and expected outcomes because they are essentially taking on a new role.

RUN AN ASSESSMENT AND DESIGN YOUR DIVERSITY PLAN

Here’s the thing – ‘inclusion’ isn’t the problem, ‘diversity’ isn’t the problem. These are terms used to encapsulate a wide range of challenges. When jumping into your work as a committee, you need to get really clear about: 

  • What challenges exist in your organization,

  • Who is affected by these challenges,

  • And how they are affected.

Running an assessment means relying on both primary and secondary data. This means assessing your policies, procedures, ways of working and researching the ways in which marginalized people are negatively impacted by traditional ways of working. 

We won’t lie – this is a lot of work. So start slow and narrow down your focus eg. assess your benefits plan or your remote work policies etc. Remember, this work is long term, so what you don’t get to now, you can tackle in the future. It might be worthwhile to collect anonymous suggestions from your larger team about what feels most urgent and should be tackled first!

Once you have an understanding of your challenge(s), you’ll need to focus your time and attention on designing the action(s) to specifically solve that challenge. 

Remember: Without tangible action, commitments are nothing but nice words on paper. The actions you design should be clear, address the challenge you identified, and be measurable.

Take some time to learn the principles of Human Centered Design and use that as a guiding light. While designing your actions/solutions, ensure you are consulting with the people who are most affected by the challenges. You don’t just want to design with them in mind, you want to design with them. 

Lastly, the actions you design have to be actually responding to your challenges. Once you land on your actions, ask yourself “What is this in service of?” and “What is this solving?”. Ensure you can speak to how this is solving the challenge with clarity. You can refer back to some of our resources on recruitment, retention and communications to start thinking about what tangible actions look like.

OPERATIONALIZE AND TEST YOUR DEI INITIATIVES

Once again – focus on ensuring you are solving for these challenges with clarity and collaboration. 

Your resources will be useful here. Tap into what you can to operationalize on your own as a committee and identify what you might need to seek out external support for. 

As you operationalize: 

  1. Document and capture the actions you are operationalizing

  2. Think about how you can build this into process so it does not become a one-time action or intervention

  3. Collect as much feedback as possible when operationalizing

  4. Make changes as you get feedback

  5. Finally, begin building out how you are going to measure the success of your actions. 

CREATE YOUR DIVERSITY STRATEGY

Let’s get back to the analogy of creating a communications department – the assumption is that this department will be around for a while. Same rules apply here! Once you have run through this process, you’ll have a better sense of what it costs, how much time it will take and what you’ll need to be successful. Ensure you are documenting this new information and using it to strategize for coming years and fiscal cycles!

It is critical that when approaching this work, you assess every aspect of your organization, understand your challenges, and consider with empathy the folks who are most harmed and disenfranchised by those challenges before you jump to a solution.

You need to develop a measurable strategy for diversity, belonging, and inclusion that is built into your processes, culture, and systems for real, measurable change.

And if developing this strategy sounds overwhelming, consider QuakeLab’s DIY Inclusion Strategy: an online self-guided course that will support you to go all the way from audit to evaluation as you develop your own inclusion strategy based on design thinking and results-based management.

about the contributor

 

 

QuakeLab is a full-stack inclusion and communications agency that provides the tools, expertise and methods to take your vision for inclusion from idea to action.

They use proven design thinking frameworks and results-based management to position inclusion as a functional and integrated part of your business structure, and not as a fluff piece hidden within your HR policy.

This means that they support organizations to not only build inclusion into strategy, but to integrate it into processes, culture, and systems for real, measurable change.

They offer a full suite of diversity, equity, and inclusion services as well as DIY strategy: an online series of self-paced diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops and toolkits that will result in an actionable strategy for your organization.

Headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, QuakeLab engages a global team of functional experts in areas which include human resources, finance, web development, branding, user experience design, business management, and more. When you hire QuakeLab, your outcomes are founded in best practices established by leading practitioners and experts.

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