Leadership teams now know the importance of building diverse and inclusive workplaces to attract and retain talent, foster innovation, and create an organizational culture where everyone can thrive. DEI is not a one-time project, but a journey that requires continued work, investment and commitment. This journey is unique for every organization. In order to make progress, it's essential to assess your current state of DEI in order to set clear, measurable, SMART goals.
What are SMART Goals in DEI?
SMART goals are a framework for creating clear and concise objectives that can be achieved within a specific timeframe. The acronym SMART stands for:
- Specific: Your goal should be clear and unambiguous, with a specific outcome in mind. It should answer the questions: What exactly do we want to achieve, and why is it important?
- Measurable: Your goal should be quantifiable so that you can track your progress and measure success.
- Achievable: Your goals should be achievable with the resources, skills, and knowledge available.
- Relevant: Your goal should be aligned with your organization's mission, values, and strategic objectives. It should answer the question: Why is this goal relevant to our organization's overall mission and strategy?
- Time-bound: Your goals should have clear timelines and benchmarks.
How to Set Effective DEI Goals
- Communicate the goals and their progress: Be open and honest in communicating the DEI goals set and their progress to employees, leaders, and the wider community. This helps to build momentum towards achieving the goals and demonstrates your organization's commitment to DEI while creating accountability.
- Set a foundation of benchmarks: To create effective - and SMART - DEI goals, it's critical to have a true understanding where your organization currently stands on its DEI journey. This is an ideal time to conduct DEI specific research and data analysis. Conducting a DEI audit or employee survey can help identify the areas that need attention and potential barriers specific to your organization. The DEI metrics collected help shape the strategic planning needed for impactful DEI initiatives.
- Identify areas in need of evolution: Use data and employee feedback to inform changes to hiring practices, promotion and career advancement opportunities, and workplace culture.
- Protect anonymity to collect impactful data: It's important to remember that participant protection is a top priority. Employees should be ensured a space to share feedback without fear of judgment or retaliation.
- Set realistic goals: Use the SMART framework to set specific and measurable goals that are realistic based on the present reality of your organization's DEI landscape. This may mean going at a slower pace than anticipated, or focusing on nuanced elements to be able to eventually work on broader topics more efficiently.
- Develop an action plan: DEI goal setting is only the first step. To achieve those goals, organizations need a roadmap for success. This could include changes to recruitment and hiring practices, training and development programs, policies and procedures, and workplace culture initiatives. This action plan should outline the specific steps that need to be taken to achieve the goals and include clear responsibilities, timelines, and resources needed. By breaking down the goals into actionable steps, organizations can make progress towards achieving their DEI goals.
Nova Case Study: Learning at Scale
A global SaaS company engaged Nova with the goal of setting a foundation for DEI learning as the organization scaled. The pilot program reached more than 50% of the organization’s workforce in less than 6 months. It also became a cornerstone for their ongoing D&I effort, with all new-hire employees going through the program within their first quarter of work. By making DEI training part of onboarding for all our new hires moving forward, their full staff is able to learn and share their diversity story, and become more aware of the biases we all bring into the workplace.
Setting goals is essential for making progress in your organization's DEI journey. By identifying areas your organization would like to improve, setting specific and measurable goals, developing an action plan, and communicating progress, you can create an impactful DEI strategy that aligns with your organization's mission and values. Achieving lasting change requires ongoing commitment and investment. By setting goals and taking action, you can create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment that benefits your team members and your organization as a whole.