Leading Diversity and Inclusion – Your Vision for 2018 and Why it Matters

By Dr. Sandra Casey Buford, Diversity and Inclusion Thought Leader and Practitioner

A new year has begun, and with that, the door to seize opportunities, to move the organization’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) agenda forward and realize success in 2018 and beyond, is wide open. Keeping in mind that Diversity and Inclusion is a transformational process that is best realized when we “begin with the end in mind.” To position Diversity and Inclusion for success is to have a clear vision. Having a vision will help you set up the right goals and objectives, and stay on track to achieve them. Rather than being in constant “reactive” mode, your vision serves as an anchor, a beacon that keeps you focused on what’s important.

When creating your Diversity and Inclusion vision keep the following four questions in mind. Does your vision for 2018:

  1. Align with the organization’s strategic goals and objectives? Having your vision aligned with your organization’s strategy and mission is essential. It is proof that you, as the leader of diversity and inclusion, are a true business partner, and that Diversity and Inclusion are a necessary component of the business. Having your vision in sync with the organization’s mission and objectives also demonstrates the value that D&I adds to the organization. This can be accomplished by making sure that you understand the business and the organization’s direction by reading annual reports, milestone reports, business plans, and updates. It is also important that you build relationships with other business leaders to demonstrate and promote D&i’s value to the organization’s success. I recommend that D&I leaders should initiate an annual D&I planning meeting with the organization’s decision-makers to understand the organization’s business priorities.
  2. Involve both internal and external stakeholders? Diversity and Inclusion work cannot be accomplished in a vacuum or isolation mode.  Stakeholders.include persons or organizations who can affect or benefit from diversity and inclusion work. Therefore, D&I work is about community and requires the involvement and support of many stakeholders, both inside and outside of the organization.  As a D&I leader, know who these stakeholders are, recognizing that they will vary from organization to organization. I often recommend that D&I leaders should go through the exercise of listing their stakeholders, beginning with the most obvious stakeholders. As the process progresses, the and the list expands, leaders have realized that there are more stakeholders than they realized. This exercise may also lead to the identification of new stakeholders.
  3. Leverage opportunities for innovation, expansion, and growth? Your vision should be one that moves D&I forward, with fresh, new ideas for growth and expansion. Ask for feedback, suggestions, ideas; and stay abreast of trends and universal best practices. Keep your eyes and ears wide open to identify opportunities to partner on upcoming business initiatives. Be alert to opportunities to close gaps, solve problems, and innovate. Think broadly and widely about the possibilities and the realities for D&I expansion and growth.
  4. Position Diversity and Inclusion as a permanent business strategy that is integral to the organization’s mission and success? The consistent theme that should resonate throughout your vision is positioning D&I as a permanent business strategy that is as vital to the organization as, for example, Sales and Marketing or Human Resources. To accomplish this, your vision must focus on value and results. Make it a practice to communicate successes and accomplishments, and the achievement of key milestones. Showcase and promote D&I’s demonstrated value to the organization.

In conclusion, what is your vision for 2018?

Be clear about it – Document it – Commit to it – Talk about it –  Get excited about it – Get to work on it! Your vision matters because achieving it means you will have a successful year leading Diversity and Inclusion.