Common barriers to implementation or the sustainability of diversity and inclusion initiatives are often attributed to people dimensions or cognitive biases, such as anti-advocacy sentiment, lack of leadership commitment, or flawed perceptions about the intent of EEO and Civil Rights legislation (culture), rather than organizational human capital strategies, structures, or processes which impede mission-informed decision making. The key is understanding the duality of culture and process which is the sweet spot of unity and inclusion.
While the need for consistency of human capital framework and structure is grossly understated by public and private sector professionals alike, understanding the interconnectivity of these functions, and identifying system barriers to implementation and sustainability of well-intended diversity and inclusion initiatives is critical. The things that have “worked well” focus on tactics and activities rather than mission-focused outcomes, systems integration, or relevant data analytics necessary to drive change and influence leadership decision making.
Perhaps more importantly, cross-functional human resource competencies are essential to the viability of an already fragmented human capital management system (in many organizations) which we continue to conclude is a critical link to fully implementing Diversity Strategic Plans aligned with an organizations' overall mission.
A good place to start
In this regard, reframing the business case for diversity and inclusion beyond EEO compliance and Civil Rights Advocacy to include talent management is a business imperative. Reframing the business case to include a focus on an integrated talent management strategy and process will reduce resistance, help improve management decision making and reduce potential waste across the business enterprise. It also raises the bar above compliance to addressing real maturing workforce challenges.
First things first!
What exactly is a business case?A business case is like a story that uses quantitative data and qualitative insights to tell how you will solve a problem or meet a business need.
Diversity means different things to different people within organizations. Certainly equal employment opportunity was designed to open the door, and diversity begs the question of systems, processes, commitment and accountability to stakeholders and communities where we live and serve.
For organizations that truly believe its workforce and customers are its greatest assets diversity and inclusion is indeed a business imperative, and “the right thing to do --- but how?"
Years and billion dollars later many continue to struggle with building a "relevant" business case for diversity and inclusion.
How do you build a relevant business case that will gain support and commitment for diversity and inclusion or any business need for that matter?
3 Important Questions:
Most concur diversity and inclusion is good for business. Organizations cannot afford to leave anyone out—and if the ultimate goal of diversity is inclusion, why would they? The power of diversity and building a relevant business case is an important lesson to continue learning.
A good place to start:
Harvard Business Review Guide to Building Your Business Case by Raymond Sheen and Amy Gallo might be a good place to start among others. The point here is to understand the building a business case process (how) and key elements to include to increase the likelihood of commitment and engagement by your stakeholders including overall sustainability of the effort.