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At CADIA this year we have been hearing a lot about making DEI sustainable within organizations.  Recently our founder and CEO, Cheryl Thompson gave a blog-worthy talk to the MEMA Diversity Council entitled Top Strategies to ensure your DEI strategy is sustainable.  We’ve pulled the highlights together here – take a look and let us know what additional strategies have worked for you.

  1. Widen the Circle:

To make DEI work, it is essential to expand the circle of inclusion. By including a broad range of voices, organizations can tap into a wealth of ideas and innovation.  Encourage participation and collaboration from individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Think beyond the visible dimensions of diversity and consider generational, cognitive and education, for example.

  1. Humanize DEI – Leverage Storytelling:

Humanizing DEI efforts is crucial to foster empathy and understanding. Incorporate storytelling as a powerful tool to showcase personal experiences and journeys, helping others connect emotionally and comprehend the significance of DEI initiatives.  Leaders can share their own stories – modeling vulnerability and openness is a great way to start.

  1. Develop and Work within your Strategic Pillars:

Align your DEI efforts with the strategic pillars of your organization. Incorporating DEI goals and strategies into the core values and mission statement helps ensure that they are integrated into all aspects of the business.

  1. Include and Engage All Stakeholders:

Successful DEI initiatives require the involvement of all stakeholders, including employees, leaders, customers, and the broader community. Engage in open dialogue, seek input, and create opportunities for everyone to actively participate in shaping the organization's DEI efforts.

  1. Contextualize and Localize DEI:

Recognize that DEI efforts should be tailored to the specific needs and cultural context of the organization. Acknowledge and address the unique challenges and opportunities present in your industry, location, and workforce, ensuring that DEI strategies are relevant and impactful.

  1. Ensure Adequate Resources:

Allocate sufficient resources, including budget, time, and personnel, to support DEI initiatives. Adequate investment will facilitate the implementation of effective programs, training, and infrastructure necessary to drive meaningful change.

  1. DEI at the Systems and Personal Level:

Approach DEI from both systemic and personal perspectives. Address systemic barriers within policies, practices, and procedures, while also promoting individual accountability and awareness to foster inclusive behaviors and mindsets.

  1. Create Outcome-Centered Goals:

Establish clear and measurable DEI goals that focus on outcomes. Define key performance indicators (KPIs) and milestones to track progress, holding the organization accountable for achieving tangible results.

  1. Measure Progress:

Regularly evaluate and assess the impact of DEI initiatives. Collect and analyze data to understand the effectiveness of strategies, identify areas for improvement, and ensure continuous growth towards creating an inclusive environment.

  1. Remember, DEI is About Humanity:

Above all, remember that DEI is fundamentally about valuing and respecting the inherent worth and dignity of all individuals. Foster a culture of empathy, kindness, and compassion. Encourage open dialogue, embrace discomfort, and prioritize the well-being and equality of every person.

Making DEI work requires a proactive and multifaceted approach that encompasses the entire organization. Let us commit ourselves to the journey of DEI, one step at a time, and build a world where everyone feels valued, respected, and included.

Article exclusively written for
Authored by Margaret Baxter