Companies tackling DEI often use different means to get the work done. Some use DEI Committees to further their goals. DEI Committees are groups of employees brought together and tasked with making progress on some DEI goal(s). While committees can be a great tool to bring employees together on a shared project, over the years, I’ve seen many DEI committees fail in their endeavors for a number of reasons:
- They do not have Executive sponsorship. When senior and executive leaders are not involved in the committee, that signals they don’t have an interest in furthering the goal. This causes misalignment in what the committee is tasked to do and the priorities that high level leaders set and communicate for the organization – causing a sense of illegitimacy in the committee. Eventually, committee members de-prioritize committee participation and lose interest.
- They are not data driven, don’t have a clear goal, or a common definition of success. If there is no quantitative or qualitative data set that the group is grounded in, it is difficult to set goals, determine a common definition of success, or to measure progress along the way. Our checklist Using DEI Data for Goal Setting and Reporting may be a useful resource in this regard.
- They are under resourced. Sometimes a company does not commit to investing resources for the group’s goals and projects. This makes it difficult for the committee to understand what resources they have at their disposal to reach goals. It also limits what the group believes it can do.
- They do not include team members from the marginalized communities. Groups formed to represent or make DEI progress that omit the perspective, experiences and voice of marginalized groups are likely to miss the mark. It’s important that people from different racial, gender and other marginalized groups are included in the discussion and decision-making process, especially if their community is part of the goal or project.
- The groups are not rewarded or recognized. DEI committees are often comprised of employee volunteers and given a task outside of their core duties. Unless there is an intentional effort by the organization and its leaders to recognize employee participation, this additional work can go unnoticed which disincentives the employee to do this critical work. A process needs to be created to sure that managers and other leaders are aware of employee DEI contributions to the organization. Stay tuned to PractialESG.com for a step by step checklist on creating this reward and recognition process for your DEI Committee(s). In the meantime, the checklist Empowering Employee Resource Groups may be instructive. (Note that although there are similarities, DEI committees are different than employee resource groups (ERGs) that are mainly employee led and driven internal groups that help drive inclusion within different marginalized groups (such as Black employee Resource Groups) that gather to further the inclusion and interest of Black employees at a company.)
At PracticalESG.com, we’re creating a step by step checklist to help you assemble a successful DEI Committee. We’ll announce its availability soon.
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