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Create Leadership Accountability for D&I In 3 Steps

High-performance organizations are up to 4.5X more likely to hold executives accountable for diversity and inclusion, according to i4cp research. And increasingly, this accountability is reflected in the development, recognition, and promotion of an organization's leaders.

During a recent discussion among members of i4cp's Chief Diversity Officer Board, the point was made that having legitimate executive accountability is especially critical when operating in a global business environment. And D&I leaders must also take into account an organization's multi-cultural practices and past experience to determine which accountability measures will be most effective.

Mechanisms to hold leaders accountable for diversity initiatives

Three essential steps for an accountability plan emerged from the Board discussion--laid out here by Joseph Santana, former head of D&I for Siemens U.S. and current chair and facilitator of i4cp's Chief Diversity Officer Board:

STEP 1: Get a clear sense of what is doable in your culture.

Not all corporate cultures have the same level of acceptance for certain accountability practices and global companies have added challenges when it comes to setting diversity targets. Some will push the need for global consistency, while others allow for local influence. Strategic goals for talent may also differ, so be ready to propose a strategy that takes all of these factors into account.

STEP 2: Based on your organization's culture, take the most strategic approach to ensure support.

Organizations vary in the specific mechanisms they are likely to use based upon culture. Some companies may start with recognition, while others may have stronger diversity goals that require additional incentive.

One recommendation: while myriad variables affect the value placed on diversity from one culture to another, most organizations will appreciate the need for a talent strategy that promotes inclusion. To that end, one strategy is to make demonstration of inclusive behaviors a competency that's a standard part of leadership assessments. This competency should have a clear definition and plan for progression so that leaders know what they're being evaluated on, why, and how to improve. This approach moves D&I concerns into the same bucket of competencies that executives are accustomed to being held accountable for, while keeping the focus primarily on how the executive manages talent.

STEP 3: As you gain credibility, work to continuously shape the organization toward the adoption of more supportive practices.

But start with a foundation of what works and is supported by your local culture and executive experience--some organizations are not ready for strong accountability measures from the onset.

About i4cp's Chief Diversity Officer Board

The Board is comprised of the heads of diversity & inclusion from leading employers across a variety of industries. Collaborating several times each year (both virtually and in-person), these executives shape, debate, and apply i4cp's industry-leading research as well as share key practices and insights–all in an exclusive environment free of vendors.

If you or your organization seeks to be on the cutting edge of the strategic application of inclusion and diversity, contact us to see if you qualify to become a member of this prestigious Board.

i4cp and the Chief Diversity Officer Board are currently researching D&I's role in leadership development. Take the survey (which closes August 14) and you will receive a complimentary report of the aggregate findings.

Eric Davis
Eric received his master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Marshall University in 1996. He has had 20+ years of workforce experience in a variety of fields. Before coming to i4cp, he worked as a laboratory technician for DuPont, a conference planner for Marshall University, the public relations manager for the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Technical Manufacturing, and a graphic designer for COX Communications.