Eight Tips For Establishing a DEI Council By Charlotte F. Hughes

Establishing a DEI Council helps create strategic accountability for results, provides governance and oversight on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, and promotes company-wide communication on progress. The best councils successfully integrate the DEI program with the company’s mission, operations, strategies, and business objectives.

DEI councils are a critical driver in fostering real organizational change, establishing a dedicated focus on DEI priorities, and managing all DEI initiatives.  Moreover, they provide platforms for overseeing and assessing the effectiveness of the DEI function and introducing improvements when needed. The primary role of the Council is to connect DEI activities to a broader business-driven, results-oriented strategy.

Link To Business Strategy

Councils must clearly link the organization’s DEI strategy with the overall business strategy to emphasize the importance of DEI in and to the organization. It is not enough for an organization to say, “We should look more diverse because customers like that.” Rather, it’s important to ask, “How can we better reflect our diverse customer base, thus providing them with better service, care, and products?”

Eight Tips For Establishing a DEI Council

For the DEI Council to be effective, we need to ensure:

  1. Support from the CEO and senior leadership.
  2. A diverse makeup of council members from different ethnicities, gender, generation, department, and other dimensions of diversity.
  3. Clear goals and expectations, structure, and leadership.
  4. An understanding of their roles as an advisory group and the DEI initiatives-focused team.
  5. Estimated time commitment: 2-3 hours per week per member. For employees that are billable, ensure that the organization issues a DEI non-billable code.
  6. A dedicated annual budget to support the DEI Council initiatives.
  7. An actionable project plan and metrics to track progress.
  8. An effective council chair and leadership team, rotating the responsibility for creating the meeting agenda and taking minutes.

These eight best practices comprise an effective, representative, and dedicated DEI Council for any organization. By securing the committed support of the CEO and top executives and incorporating the advice from employees, we can transform the success and sustainability of DEI, creating the business outcomes that are targeted.  Through the implementation of a DEI Council, organizations can constantly ensure DEI is executed as a business strategy and deliver meaningful results.

Charlotte Hughes helps employers develop and implement their DEI Strategic Plan including establishing their first DEI Council.  She also designs and delivers innovative and engaging training and development and speaking engagements.


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