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Viewpoint: Make This Checklist Your DE&I Launching Point

​Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a critical part of any organization's business strategy. McKinsey and other consulting firms, as well as myriad business schools, have confirmed that organizations with diverse boards, leadership teams and workforces outperform companies with more homogeneous populations.

So why use something as simple as a "checklist" to address an imperative that is so critical to any organization's strategic planning initiatives? Because DE&I covers such a broad swath of business areas that initiating and expanding your program with the help of a template may be a simple yet effective place to start.

We know that some of the world's most critical engagements succeed with the help of a simple checklist methodology. Airlines require that pilots employ checklists before every flight. Surgeons often scan checklists before initiating certain complicated procedures. Leading executive coaches, like Marshall Goldsmith in his Stakeholder Centered Coaching program, recommend and utilize a checklist before each client engagement to ensure they're on point and covering all their bases.

Whether you're analyzing employee demographics, recruitment statistics, retention and promotion records, or marketing and customer data, a checklist approach can help you start and strengthen your organization's DE&I programs and initiatives.

A Starting Point

"Most organizations don't know where to begin when it comes to launching a DE&I program," said Setche Kwamu-Nana, a San Diego-based DE&I consultant and trainer who helps organizations move beyond DE&I rhetoric to lasting transformation. That's understandable because it's such a huge topic with many complexities. "It's always best to start with a shared understanding of what diversity, equity and inclusion mean; what the benefits are; and why it's important to you, your company and society," Kwamu-Nana said. Here's an analogy: diversity is inviting different kinds of people to a party; inclusion is asking everyone to dance; equity is asking everyone to help to plan the party and then valuing and utilizing their input.

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"For more-effective results, it is important to do an organizational assessment and align your DE&I strategy with your organizational goals," Kwamu-Nana said. "Understanding the diversity of the community you serve—where your consumers, customers and clients reside, and their demographic makeup—is a great place to begin."

For example, if your business is in the San Fernando Valley outside Los Angeles, your local demographic makeup may look like this: 42 percent Hispanic, 41 percent white, 12 percent Asian and 5 percent Black. You want to understand the makeup of the community you serve and have a measuring rod against which to base your employee demographic analysis. Obtaining this information is fairly easy with a simple Google search or with the help of the local chamber of commerce or economic development corporation.

Of course, DE&I extends far beyond race and gender to include, among other things, age, disability, sexual orientation and much more. But first, establishing a base line of the community you serve and where your establishment is located is a great place to start. Internal diversity metrics will then help you compare your company's demographics to that of your own community.

With this base line, you can measure progress toward your organization's DE&I efforts. Again, this is only meant to be a launching point, as DE&I is far more complex and intricate than a simple checklist might otherwise indicate. But if you're looking to truly delve into this critical study and analysis, benchmarking local and company demographics is an excellent place to start.

The Checklist

A checklist that measures human capital isn't intended to be static. It's intended to evolve as new insights become available and warrant further exploration. But keeping it simple initially, and then allowing the checklist to evolve as new data create additional opportunities, makes the most sense.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Checklist
Local Worker and Extended Customer Demographics Research statistics regarding your workplace community and, more importantly, the customers and consumers you serve. Start with ethnicity, age, gender, gender orientation/LGBTQIA+*, and veteran and disability statistics, if available.
Company Workforce StatisticsAnalyze your current workforce demographics by location, including ethnicity, age, gender, gender orientation, veteran and disability status, and other factors you deem appropriate.
Company Diversity Metrics Review the following metrics for the particular aspects of diversity orientation that you're focusing on (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity): 1) retention rate, 2) internal job fill ratio, 3) promotion rate and 4) turnover percentage, including involuntary versus voluntary turnover.
Employee Lifecycle Analysis and Talent DiversityMeasure each of the following key gateways and paths closely to determine where diversity tends to "fall off": 1) applicant sourcing, 2) interview screening, 3) hiring, 4) retention, 5) internal mobility and 6) succession planning. Look for trends and patterns in roadblock areas and build your recruitment and retention programs, as well as your exit interviews, around those challenges.
Recruitment Advertising Outreach Sources

Expand your typical and LinkedIn sourcing methods to include,,,,,,,, and

Niche sites won't produce the volume of big job boards, but the quality of candidates should justify the cost of the ads.

Talent Intelligence (AI-Driven) Platforms Talent intelligence (artificial intelligence-driven) platforms are becoming commercially available to identify internal talent and align succession planning with development opportunities for high-potential employees. AI can search for adjacent skills and focus on the potential of each individual applicant or employee. AI can mask individuals' identities and reduce unconscious bias. AI analytics can point to underrepresented groups that drop off within the hiring cycle or the internal promotion process. AI can "learn" diversity metrics to better achieve diversity goals, so long as they're updated, monitored and adjusted regularly.

*The LGBTQ+ acronym is formed based on the following terms: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. It's also common to see the acronym LGBTQQIA+ used for a clearer representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual people. The addition of the "+" symbol indicates its expansive meaning and stands for love, acceptance and the embracing of all.

4 Qualities to Track

Of course, no checklist is broad enough to cover the essence and quality of your organization's hiring, retention and promotion programs. Checklists, however, can certainly help on the quantitative side to ensure that you're touching all the bases and the key elements of a successful program. "On the qualitative side, link your statistical metrics with a healthy and transparent discussion surrounding the cultural narrative and employee feedback," said Monica Jackson, vice president of inclusion and diversity at Eaton in Cleveland, Ohio. The following four broad categories are a good place to start:

  • Workforce DE&I: Hiring, retaining, developing and promoting diverse employees
  • Workplace DE&I: Creating a company culture rooted in acceptance and belonging
  • Marketplace DE&I: Attracting and delighting diverse customers and suppliers
  • Community DE&I: Contributing to all parts of the community a company serves

Only a broad and holistic approach that incorporates all four measures above will make for a DE&I program worthy of your organization and your employees. "Make no mistake, however: Diversity, equity and inclusion is not an option; it is a business imperative. DE&I is essential for successful business organizations to drive innovation, achieve business results and realize sustainable growth. Ensure your DE&I efforts are intentional and integrated—apply an inclusive lens to your process and practices," Jackson said.

Developing a DE&I policy and corresponding company initiatives that help achieve a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive organization is a noble and practical endeavor. It's proven to be a critical "must-have" for younger employees in terms of attracting and retaining talent, along with giving back to the community and fulfilling corporate social responsibility. You don't need to have a perfect start—you just need to start. See if a simple checklist approach helps you build and develop your program over time to capture broader and more nuanced aspects of your organization's commitment to this critical business and personal imperative. 


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