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Where to Begin

In order to understand the breadth and depth of potential work on diversity issues, you should familiarize yourself with the typical steps in a diversity initiative process that are described in this section. Many of the steps below have links to relevant parts of the toolkit.

Planning and analysis steps

Review corporate-wide initiative: Your plan for diversity work within your organization must be consistent with any corporate-wide diversity initiative. You should look to adopt any new programs that are being implemented throughout the company as well as participate in any events or activities.

Review the business case for diversity: You should review the business case for diversity and select the three or four reasons why a diversity plan makes sense for your organizational unit.

Review answers to tough questions: Resistance to diversity work is very common. Often, employees resist change and diversity work involves change. You should review the Answers to Tough Questions section so you are prepared to respond to employee resistance.

Participate in diversity training: Before identifying diversity issues within your organization, you should participate in some type of diversity training. This training will familiarize you with the wide range of diversity issues and prepare you for what you may find in your organization.

Identify specific issues: The Measurement Section identifies many measurements used to assess how a company looks in terms of visible diversity. However, you also will want to identify diversity issues your employees are facing. You may want to meet with individual employees or have an internal or external consultant conduct confidential interviews and/or focus groups with employees to gather specific information on what they see as critical diversity issues within your organizational unit. If available, you should review any 360° feedback, findings from exit interviews and other post-separation follow-up. In conducting your research, you must remember that some of the employee feedback will likely surprise you --- Don't despair --- Just acknowledge the issues and use this toolkit to begin addressing them.

Mid-level and senior managers may want to undertake an employee survey to identify diversity issues in the work environment, depending upon the number of employees in their organization. For the design and implementation of the survey, you will want to utilize the services of either an internal or external consultant.

In addition, senior managers may want to consider conducting a cultural audit of the organization. A cultural audit is a comprehensive review of all relevant company data in an effort to identify diversity issues in the organization. It typically takes about six months and involves the systematic review and analysis of demographic data on representation, hiring, promotion, and turnover; in-depth research of employee opinion; and evaluation of human resource policies, programs and systems. Cultural audits are usually part of large, corporate initiatives on diversity. While conducting a cultural audit is preferable, it is not required to address diversity issues and to implement the actions recommended in this toolkit.

Implementation Steps

Consider setting up a diversity council or task team: In larger organizations, it is useful to set up a diversity task team or council to spearhead the diversity initiative. The diversity council can help analyze the research and make recommendations about interventions. You will want to make sure that representatives are chosen from horizontal and vertical cross-sections of the organization. You also want to make sure that visible diversity is represented on the team.

Select one or two areas: Once you have identified specific diversity issues from your employee feedback, you should select one or two areas to focus on for the next year.

Obtain baseline data: After you have identified the one or two focus areas, then you should select a few measures that capture the situation you are trying to improve. For example, if you are trying to reduce the turnover of women, then you should calculate the turnover of women and compare it to the turnover of men over the past few years.

Communicate: Clear, honest communication is essential throughout the diversity initiative process. In the beginning, you should inform your staff that you are researching diversity issues and solicit their input. Once you have identified your one or two focus areas, then you should communicate them in writing and in person to your employees with a statement of the current situation and what you hope to change. You may need to have this communication reviewed by legal and human resource staff prior to its dissemination. As you take action and measure progress, you should provide your employees with periodic updates.

Utilize the toolkit: Once you have your focus areas, then you should review the appropriate topics in this toolkit.

For recruitment and hiring issues

For turnover and retention issues, including career development and planning, work/life balance, and rewards and recognition

For teambuilding, productivity and innovation issues

Identify a few personal actions: As a role model, you need to demonstrate leadership on diversity. You should review the Diversity Commitment Action section of the toolkit and commit to undertaking at least one or two actions.

Tracking and Follow-up Steps

Measure progress: Once you have taken action, it is important to measure and track your progress against the original baseline measurements.

Make necessary adjustments: If you have not made significant progress, you'll want to determine the reasons and decide whether to continue or modify your current initiatives.

Communicate progress and plans for future: If you have made progress on your focus areas, you'll want to communicate this improvement to your employees. If you have not made progress, you should be upfront with your employees and communicate what you intend to do differently in the future. After you have some success, you should identify additional diversity issues to address.

About the Leaders' Toolkit on Diversity and Inclusion is now the official owner and distributor of the Leaders' Toolkit on Diversity.© Copyright The GilDeane Group, Inc., 2016. All Rights Reserved. For information, please contact The GilDeane Group, Phone 206-362-0336, Email:

Web-based Leaders' Toolkit was originally developed by Technology Workforce Partners, a consortium of high technology companies that worked collaboratively on diversity issues in the workplace from 1995-2005.

This toolkit is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace legal, compliance, or other professional advice. assumes no liability for the use of this toolkit.