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By now, you may have become familiar with DEI as “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” However, as our definitions of diversity continue to evolve, so too should the concepts surrounding it. If you’re focusing on DEI as part of a business strategy (and you should be), perhaps it’s time to rethink DEI.

What if DEI stood for “diversity, equity, and innovation“?

Dr. Jackie F. Steele, founder and CEO of enjoi Japan K.K., discusses how businesses can set sustainable and meaningful diversity KPIs to avoid the pitfall of ineffective, one-off initiatives.

“Everyone has to be a stakeholder for how [DEI] rolls out because you’re talking about changing the whole organizational culture.”

Dr. Jackie F. Steele, Founder & CEO of enjoi Japan

Transcript:

Dr. Jackie F. Steele:

I think about diversity as being a unique combination of professional background, diversity of thought and ideology, diversity of family upbringing, diversity of lived experiences . . . All of that, I think, builds this unique combination of individuality that’s enriched with all of these diversities. Really, we’re thinking about diversity as being core to the human condition.

The Biggest “Don’t” for an Inclusive Work Environment

Don’t start from a logic of, “we’ll just do one off” anything. Because if you think about, yes, it’s good to beta test, but having one event around diversity, equity, and innovation does not generate systemic change or change management.

How to do a DEI Audit

I always advocate for companies to do an audit—what I call a diversity, equity, and innovation audit. And that’s really about getting to the core of knowing all of the strengths in the ecosystem, and all of the vulnerabilities in the system, and where the blind spots are in the systems or in the leadership team, in the management team, and also in the new grads.

Doing that baseline audit gives them actual evidence of a start line. Then from there, you can start measuring performance. Because if you’re just randomly trying things and improvising, you can’t measure. You have no evidence-based sense of growth and accomplishment, and you don’t know what you’re moving towards.

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Who is Responsible for Workplace DEI?

Once I know my ecosystem and we have a sense of where are—the pain points or where we could have growth and improve—then you’re intentionally setting some really strategic KPIs. And the KPIs need to be really strategically aligned with your business mission and where you’re headed as a company. They can’t just be, “we want more inclusion” as a vague abstract idea. It’s:

What is the business strategy? What are we asking our teams to accomplish?

And you make sure that there are KPIs at every single level of the organization. It’s not something that HR is responsible for. It’s something that the CEO, first and foremost, is responsible for driving and being the overall person responsible when things don’t work out or when things go sideways.

Then, when there’s success, it’s just like business strategy. The CEO is ultimately where the buck stops. So having KPIs for the CEO, KPIs for the senior managers, for the middle managers, and for the employees who aren’t managerial but have different leadership roles, and right down to the new grads and the new hires.

Everyone has to be a stakeholder for different facets of how this rolls out because you’re talking about changing the whole organizational culture.

How to Set KPIs for a DEI Business Strategy

Have KPIs that are meaningful. They come with a carrot and they come with a stick. They have both. You get rewards, and you get consequences.

If you don’t actually achieve your KPIs, just like in sales or in anything else, if there are no carrots and no sticks, generally performance lags. For diversity, equity, and innovation as a business strategy, that’s equally clear.

And so you set your KPIs with your carrots and your sticks built into the system, and you celebrate your successes.

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