Once you and your team have completed the initial preparation, you’re ready to dive into writing. This part will take some time (usually more than you’re expecting), but it’s well worth patiently following the process.
DEI is all about listening, actively engaging others, and doing the hard work for long-term success. Needless to say, taking your time to get it right is the way to go. Follow these 5 steps to write an effective and comprehensive plan that your entire organization can get behind.
Step 1: Get Collaborative
You’ve already identified your starting point by collecting data and defining your goals. Now it’s time to engage your DEI workgroup to write the plan, and it’s important to involve the group throughout the entire process.
This type of writing requires focus and concentration, so you may want to schedule a retreat or several blocked work sessions to complete and review the written document.
Identify a skilled facilitator to walk your workgroup through the brainstorming process to keep the group moving forward. It can be helpful to divide the workgroup into smaller teams to focus on different sections, such as developing strategies for each goal.
Step 2: Identify How You’ll Reach Your Goals
Next, brainstorm how you’ll reach your goals with your workgroup. This includes defining your DEI vision, mission, and strategies. Developing clear vision and mission statements tied to your ideal future state and the overall DEI goal will ensure your initiative remains grounded as strategies evolve. Your DEI statements should differ from your organization’s vision and mission, but they should be connected.
You’ll want to have your research handy to inform these brainstorming sessions, particularly when developing strategies. As the workgroup outlines strategies, take the time to align them to each goal identified in our first article in this DEI series: How to Create Your DEI Plan Part 1: Preparation.
Here are a few suggestions for the process:
Keep the number of strategies short: Eight or fewer strategies will help reduce stalled efforts.
Consensus is not the goal: Everyone won’t agree on each strategy. Be sure to discuss dependencies and note how you’ll pivot if needed.
Get leadership buy-in: Present your strategies to leadership and stakeholders to gain feedback before digging into the next step in which you’ll outline your action items.
Step 3: Outline Your Action Items
With your strategies in hand, list key action items and align them to each strategy. Successful plans require a focus on the details to ensure you’re making progress, and this is the part of the process where you’ll outline those details.
Include the following elements for each action item.
Timing (start and end dates)
Priority (high, medium, or low)
Action items with these elements are the implementation part of your plan and will definitely evolve. Enhancing, adding, or eliminating parts are normal and necessary for effective transformation. Follow it daily to track progress and ensure your activities are aligned.
Step 4: Putting It All Together
Now you’re ready to put it all together. This sample of a National Credit Union Administration’s DEI plan demonstrates the components you may want to include:
Executive Summary: Although this summary will likely appear first in the document, you may to write it last so you can capture key insights from the entire process.
Background/Introduction: Include your research highlights, why you’re embarking on a DEI initiative, a description of your planning process, and the key stakeholders involved here.
DEI Vision and Mission
Appendices: Remember to add any research, a glossary of terms, and other pertinent information here for those not involved in the process.
Step 5: Communicate Your Plan
One of the most imperative keys to any DEI plan is communicating both the launch of your initiative and the ongoing progress of your plan. Frequent transparency and honesty ensure follow-through on promises made while building an inclusive environment.
DEI communications should evoke leadership’s commitment to achieving the goals and positive change, but this shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. Garner and communicate stakeholders’ experiences to ensure you’re as open as possible about progress and bumps in the road.
Although you should integrate key messages and progress into already established communications methods, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of an experienced multicultural or diversity communications professional to curb misunderstandings.
Read the final article How to Create Your DEI Plan Part 3: Tracking Your Plan.
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Dwan Jones is the founder of Strategic Like a Boss, a strategy consultancy, and a contributor to the Nelson Connects blog and more. Connect with her about DEI, strategic planning, and multicultural communications on LinkedIn.