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So much potential, energy, talent, time, and money are wasted because we aren’t clear. When it comes to diversity and inclusion in particular, many of us lack clarity about our goals, the impact we want to have, or even our intentions.

Sometimes we have clear intentions but no idea how to get there. Sometimes we have clear intentions and goals for desired impact, but we don’t believe we can get there. Other times, we have positive, clear intentions, but negative or unintended impacts.

To align intent and impact for more powerful D&I results, first get crystal clear about your goals and intentions. Diversity is a means to an end. Inclusion is a means to an end. They are not the end! “Doing diversity” for its own sake — to look or feel good, comply with regulations, avoid lawsuits, or do the right thing are old school reasons that are incomplete at best and misguided at worst. Having only “old school” motivations are why many internal D&I initiatives, offices, and professionals aren’t taken seriously, and aren’t given the same power, recognition or resources as other departments. Thus such initiatives, offices and resources can be easily eliminated in tough times; D&I is seen as icing on the cake instead of an essential ingredient for the cake. It’s seen as a nice-to-have, not the must have evidence now demonstrates it to be.

What to do? Three actions:

1. Answer these key questions to define your organization’s mission-critical diversity return on investment:

  • What does this organization value most? What are its highest, most urgent priorities? Don’t look at the vision, mission, or core values, or listen to what leaders say. What do they do? Where does the money go? That tells you what the actual values and priorities are!
  • What does not “doing diversity” cost us now? What could we have saved or avoided? Identify data that affect the organization’s highest, most urgent priorities. Think about quantitative data like dollars wasted due to staff turnover (including the costs of recruiting, training, hiring, onboarding, and new hire learning curves), low engagement, low productivity, absenteeism, low customer satisfaction and reduced market share. Think about the many costs of lawsuits and other crises. Think also about qualitative data like morale, brand reputation, team performance, stress levels, effective decision making, customer satisfaction, innovation, creativity.
  • What is not “doing diversity” going to cost us in the future? Use the same metrics to project your ongoing and future costs, taking into consideration projected trends for your industry, market, and geography. Consider the shifting demographics of the United States and beyond, increasing automation and the globalization of most industries.
  • How is “doing diversity” going to benefit us? What do we stand to gain now? In the future? Using the same metrics, articulate your organization’s unique, mission critical DROI (diversity return on investment)!  Read the next 2 actions on Workforce Magazine!

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