More than ever, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a hot topic in our workplaces, communities, schools, and homes. Most people understand that “diversity” is a mix of individual differences across an organization. These differences are what make people unique, and can include age, skills, sexual orientation, cognitive differences, ethnicity, race, and gender. The “inclusion” part of the concept ensures that the diverse mix of people described above feels they are valued and respected in the workplace.

In this post, we’ll highlight key steps you should take if you want to build a successful, impactful, DEI program within your organization.

Prepare yourself for the journey ahead:

It takes a lot of work to establish a DEI program within your organization. As you begin to assess the current atmosphere and start to develop initiatives, the process can bring a lot of different emotions to the surface. The fear of the unknown can be scary. After all, you don’t know what you’ll find, or how others will receive your findings.

Get buy-in from the boss:

It will be difficult to get your DEI program off the ground if there’s no commitment from the leaders in your organization. It’s important to make sure decision-makers are fully supportive of your efforts and will communicate their stance to the workforce.

Group up with like-minded individuals:

Your first step should be to establish a DEI Council or Committee. This is especially important for organizations that may not have the resources to have a subsidized D&I program, office, or dedicated staff. Not only will the council support the execution of the D&I Strategy, but it will also hold your organization accountable to meet stated goals.

Assess the current situation:

First, collect pertinent data through workforce data, surveys, focus groups, and policies. Then, analyze the demographic representation across the human capital lifecycle and review organizational policies and procedures. Can you identify any barriers? Do you see any room for improvement in the areas of policy, representation, and/or accessibility? If so, you know where to concentrate your efforts first.

Encourage employees to speak their minds:

As the phrase “Diversity and Inclusion” gains prominence in our lexicon, it’s important to emphasize that one concept doesn’t always follow the other. An organization that boasts a diverse group of employees, which can easily be measured, might not foster an inclusive environment, which is harder to measure. This oversight could hinder collaboration, innovation, and productivity within the organization.

CIDIS President, Dr. Joy Papini, describes it this way, “You can have a box of crayons with all the colors of the rainbow, but if the crayons don’t feel like they belong or fit in with the rest of the box, the crayons will not color together.”

As you build your program, remember to promote Diversity and Inclusion as separate entities. Listen to the hearts and minds of your employees. Understand their concerns and consider their suggestions for improvements.

Develop your D&I Program.

You’ve gathered hard numbers from your research and solicited honest feedback from the workforce. The next step is to develop and implement a D&I Strategy that features data-driven goals and initiatives.

This strategy should be based on identified areas of improvement in two buckets. Bucket #1, Diversity. Bucket #2, Inclusion. Each bucket should house three to four goals that will generate tangible results and measurable impact. These goals should have benchmarks for achievement attached, as well as actions that will propel your organization along the path to meet those goals. Once the committee finalizes the strategy, you can then communicate it to the rest of the organization, all the while emphasizing that the program has leadership support.

Monitor your progress and set new goals as you go:

How will you track your progress? Identify key performance indicators to measure the impact within the organization. Are goals being met by stated deadlines? Are you seeing positive change? Compile your results in easy-to-read, jargon-free summaries to communicate progress to leadership and the workforce.

Developing and introducing a new program to a diverse group of people isn’t a simple task. It’s not a one-and-done process, but a journey that will require vigilant attention as you strive to affect your organization positively.

If you need assistance in creating a more diverse workforce and inclusive environment, visit and click on Resources for a host of articles and videos on a variety of D&I topics. We also offer expertise in People Management, Data Analytics and Research, Strategic Planning, and Leadership Coaching. To learn more, contact us at

About CIDIS: CIDIS is an Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business that focuses on working in collaboration with clients to create high-performing diverse and inclusive organizations through the transformation of their business operations, organizational culture, and human capital management practices.