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Key takeaways:

  • Data-driven decision-making: Leveraging metrics like engagement surveys and ESG reports is crucial for justifying and prioritizing DEI budget needs, fostering transparency, and aligning DEI initiatives with broader organizational goals.
  • Comprehensive metrics beyond numbers: Embrace a holistic approach to metrics, encompassing numerical data and employee surveys to uncover engagement levels, biases, and reports on workplace behavior to create strategic action plans on investment areas.
  • Sustained DEI investment is essential: Failure to invest in DEI initiatives can lead to disengagement, higher turnover, and a lack of innovation. This can also hinder organizational growth and market competitiveness.

As diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) leaders are strategizing for this upcoming year, many are planning how to efficiently advance their goals and address the shifting priorities within the DEI landscape.

In the DEI Board community, our members joined in several leadership discussions about optimizing their budgets and provided insights on how to mitigate risks associated with underinvesting in DEI.

We’ll dig into the best practices senior DEI leaders shared for ensuring your team gets continued investment to help drive broader organizational success.

Push for Data-Driven Decision-Making

During a confidential, members-only discussion on optimizing your budget to address shifting priorities, our members discussed why leading with data is essential when making and proposing budget decisions.

Several DEI leaders noted that engagement surveys can provide valuable insights for budget allocation. And as one member explained, translating these insights into tangible action plans and business goals can help make a strong case for budget needs.

While these metrics can be complicated, another member shared that your ESG report can be a great tool to showcase anecdotal information on your DEI initiatives.

During the DEI Board’s panel discussion on planning for 2024, Prologis Global DEIB and Talent Strategy Manager Jim Chan provided more insights on the critical role that data plays in informing budget decisions and driving meaningful change.

At Prologis, he shared that they use specific metrics to help with larger organizational goals and ensuring accountability across the enterprise.

“We really try to incorporate it and embed it within our broader culture and talent metrics and broader organization metrics,” Jim said. “Things like attrition, things like engagement score, and things like diversity in hiring — and we break it out as people of color and women at different levels in the organization.”

Jim noted that these metrics are openly shared with business unit leaders, fostering a culture of transparency and accountability.

He also mentioned the use of the color-coded “traffic light” system, which uses red, yellow, and green scoring to inform business leaders on how they’re performing in DEI goals.

Jim said this helps generate engagement and prompts conversations around improvement around their initiatives.

Navigating the Complexity of DEI Data and Positioning it as an Enabler

During the confidential leadership discussion on optimizing your DEI budget, our members explained that DEI should be talked about as a way to achieve broader business goals, such as recruitment and retention.

Members noted that by showing how internal DEI work, such as ERG initiatives, can support recruitment and retention goals, you can gain leadership and manager buy-in.

Ashley Watson, Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Danfoss, highlighted the complexity of leveraging data across a global organization, noting the challenges in reporting specifics due to varying regulations.

“That particular role is not solely on the person with DEI in their title. It is on every person that has access to our organization.”

– Ashley Watson, Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Danfoss

But despite these challenges, she explained that their organization prioritizes transparency, sharing what they can regarding race and ethnicity metrics.

However, Ashley cautioned against the use of the traffic light system that Jim mentioned, urging for a deeper understanding of the drivers behind these metrics.

“My personal opinion is that that causes mass hysteria,” Ashley said. “Sometimes, when you use that traffic light, when you see red, you automatically target that area, but you don’t look at the drivers causing that particular color. So, we make sure that we have transparent conversations in our data meetings to help folks understand what are the catalysts that drive these specific numbers.”

For Danfoss, data doesn’t stop at numbers. Ashley explained that metrics extend to employee surveys that uncover levels of engagement, biases, microaggressions, and reports on harassment and discrimination.

She explained that this comprehensive approach enables the organization to strategically address issues and helps secure more budgetary needs for DEI initiatives.

Mitigating the Risks with Underinvesting in DEI initiatives

Ashley also shed light on the inherent risks of underinvesting into DEI initiatives and the multifaceted impact it can have across organizations.

She emphasized not investing in DEI isn’t solely monetary; it includes a lack of active engagement and participation at all organizational levels.

“We’re here to fix systems as well as look at policies and procedures and what is driving our bottom line,” Ashley said. “That is exactly what we focus on in this particular space. And that particular role is not solely on the person with DEI in their title. It is on every person that has access to our organization.”

To reinforce this message, Ashley said they utilize reporting during meetings and town halls, outlining where accountability lies across job titles, ensuring a shared responsibility for investment in DEI initiatives.

The core message conveyed is clear: Sustained investment in DEI initiatives, both in terms of resources and active participation, is vital to organizational health. Ashley warned of the potential consequences if organizations fail to uphold their responsibilities, including disengagement among employees, increased turnover, and stagnant progress in DEI efforts.

Driving Innovation with Continued Investment

Jim echoed Ashley’s sentiment, highlighting the critical link between DEI investment and innovation.

“We can’t be ahead of what’s next if we don’t have the right people at the table with different voices and perspectives,” Jim said. “People to drive the innovation forward and to build new products and ideas to expand our product lines and portfolio.”

Without these diverse experiences, Jim noted that organizations may struggle to innovate and expand their product lines, ultimately hindering their growth and market leadership.

“We can’t be ahead of what’s next if we don’t have the right people at the table with different voices and perspectives.”

– Jim Chan, Global DEIB and Talent Strategy Manager at Prologis

Optimize Your Budget with Actionable Insights from Your Peers

Ensuring your DEI initiatives continue to get investment is not an easy task. However, you don’t have to do it alone. DEI Board members have a confidential, vendor-free space in our community where they benchmark their strategies and meet weekly to get unbiased peer insights on their top priorities.

From navigating push back against DEI, to managing expectations and securing buy-in, learn how a membership in the DEI Board can help you optimize your budget and effectively advance diversity, equity, and inclusion across your organization.

Interested in learning more?

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