Business is and always has been a numbers or a bottom line results game. With the advancements in information processing technology, today’s executives have access to a range of data which is nearly infinite in its depth and breadth. There is almost nothing that a computer can’t process at incomprehensible speeds, producing the opportunity for big data analytics on just about anything. The numbers tell management how much something costs, how many units are being produced and sold, how long the lead time is for delivery of parts or products. They are not only descriptive, they are also predictive. In short, they drive the business.
A study of CEOs analyzing what CEOs want from their Diversity organizations concluded that CEOs want to see the impact and ROI of their Diversity investments but instead receive only activity and satisfaction data. So, why aren’t Diversity & Inclusion Executives, Managers, Practitioners, etc. measuring their impact and sharing with their CEOs?
Diversity and inclusion executives as well as other diversity professionals face many challenging audiences when it comes to demonstrating diversity’s contribution and value; however, some of the toughest audiences are in their own company’s or client’s C-suite. Most executives enter these meetings with at least two perspectives.
First, they are wondering if you are credible and confident enough to be here. In very short order these executives will form an impression of you and make assumptions about your department or organization’s performance based upon the results you have produced for the organization. Were these results tangible and performance based? Is there clear evidence that it was your diversity initiative that generated these outcomes? What else could have contributed to this result?
Second, did the results you produced help the organization take advantage of an opportunity, meet a need or solve a business-related problem? In other words, did your department’s diversity initiatives produce outcomes that add measurable value in financial and other terms? Executives listen for impact and want to know there is urgency and opportunity around the topic you are presenting to them. To keep your meeting with them focused, you must consider how your measurement conversation states a clear takeaway upfront and tells them what your efforts have accomplished in ROI terms as well as delineate what you need from them.
It is much easier to achieve this success if your diversity initiatives contain specific measures, key performance indicators and other analytics that are measurable as well as linked and aligned with issues and challenges important to the business. These numbers can be validated by showing current and actual historical data that reflect the impact of the results and their reported value by others who apply and have success using the diversity-based solutions you develop. They can also be compared to internal and external benchmarks that give a C-suite executive comparative data to judge the outcome’s relative performance and contribution value.
Are You Experiencing Diversity Initiative Failures
Almost every organization encounters unsuccessful diversity initiatives and programs – those that go astray, costing far too much and failing to deliver on promises. Many critics of these initiatives suggest these failures could have been avoided by using these four strategies:
1. Make certain the initiative is based upon a legitimate need stemming from a comprehensive business and performance needs analysis from the beginning,
2. Ensure adequate planning is in place at the outset,
3. Collect data throughout the project to confirm that the implementation is on track, and
4. Finally, it is essential to conduct an impact study to detail the project’s contribution. Unfortunately, these steps are unintentionally omitted, not fully understood or intentionally ignored; thus, greater emphasis and accountability must be placed on fully implementing these strategies for credibility with the C-Suite and impact.
If you want your Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) organization to truly deliver what the C-Suite wants and remain viable, you need to “think and act strategically”.