A DEI Committee is a purpose-driven task force that helps to steer DEI decisions, strategies and actions in your organization. When a DEI Committee is set up for success from the beginning, it can help steward the DEI journey of your organization. Learn how to launch a successful DEI Committee in our latest article.
Over half of employers (52%) think the Chief Human Resources Officer is partially or fully responsible for DEI, while 36% say it’s the CEO and 17% think nobody is.
While it’s critical that the DEI vision is inspired, championed and accountable from the executive level, a DEI committee positions your people as an integral part of the DEI journey - rather than having the DEI function siloed or dictated top-down.
A DEI Committee is a purpose-driven task force - composed of diverse staff with differing perspectives - that helps to steer DEI decisions, strategies and actions in your organization. In some cases, the group has decision-making roles and, in other cases, acts as an advisory to leadership. It also becomes a developmental opportunity for future leaders.
A DEI task force helps to educate, support and champion the organizational DEI initiatives - and because it comprises diverse and passionate constituents - helps to hold leadership and the organization accountable to the DEI journey. Members of your DEI committee are ultimately ambassadors to build an inclusive culture.
A DEI committee should not be charged with convincing leadership to value diversity, equity and inclusion: it should be charged with helping to keep leadership on task, in check, supported and challenged. The DEI committee should originate with leadership buy-in, not pitch for it.
To help move the meter, a DEI committee will be most empowered when:
A DEI steering committee can be instrumental in:
If leadership is not onboard, your DEI task force risks wheel-spinning. Executive championship and executive advocates are the foundation of the DEI committee, clearly understanding why you want to initiate one and the role it plays in the DEI strategy. Engagement with executive leadership should be iterative and on-going. This means an executive-level sponsor needs to be an engaged and active participant of the committee - not just a figurehead.
Whether your DEI committee is five or twenty-five people, you want an invested membership that will support listening, cohesion and momentum.
When forming a DEI committee:
Once your committee is formed, it will be important to:
Beyond the core members of your team, as you get to work, it will be necessary to develop departmental DEI allies. For example, if the team is reviewing aspects of the performance review process, it will be important to align with relevant individuals.
ERGS are also key partners to your DEI task force, and engaging them will benefit both ERG group interests as well as DEI committee objectives. The DEI Committee can be a place where ERGS can share their voice and elevate the issues their constituents find most important. Equally, the DEI committee can leverage ERGS to gain feedback on ideas,to circulate communications on initiative roll-outs, and turn DEI goals into action.
Rounding back to where we began, the role of leadership is more than visibly championing the DEI committee. Strong leadership involvement is important for staying close to the business vision, securing necessary operational and initiative budgets and resources to support DEI task force initiatives, removing roadblocks and barriers of impact, and for amplifying key messages and gaining traction on initiatives.
DEI Leadership is about follow-through, not only kick-off.
Too many DEI efforts are focused on taking actions on all the good ideas that are proposed; to launch a successful DEI committee, switch from an activity orientation to an outcomes orientation. An effective DEI committee will be anchored in a clearly defined leadership-aligned mission with tangible goals that are extensions of a data-backed DEI strategy. Measuring performance is not about what actions are done but what impacts are quantifiable on the workforce, culture and business - aligned to desired outcomes written into your DEI strategies.
For example, imagine the organization has a DEI objective to increase neurodiversity through hiring. A short-term goal is to create a partnership with a recruitment firm around neurodiversity recruitment. The partnership is a process metric, but it’s not enough. The longer term strategic goal is to increase the representation of neurodivergent hires and cultivate neurodiverse inclusion in your organization. The action needs to be carried through to measurable outcomes.
The best way to measure impact is to first benchmark where you began. Begin your DEI committee with baseline data metrics on diversity and inclusion in your workplace and let that set the map for strategic action. Communicate actions, celebrate qualitative and quantitative progress and reflect the value of those accomplishments in performance reviews and compensation. Monitor not only the progress on initiatives, but feedback on the DEI Committee itself.
When a DEI Committee is set up for success from the beginning, it can help steward the DEI journey of your organization.