DEI Goals

Building Inclusive Workplaces: DEI Goals and How to Achieve Them

According to a LinkedIn study, 76% of job seekers mentioned diversity as a critical factor in evaluating potential workplaces. Yet, we often wonder what DEI means beyond the slogans. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are crucial for organizations to create a healthy work environment that values every employee. However, setting DEI goals can be overwhelming for companies that have never done it. 

In this blog post, we will help you understand the significance of DEI in the workplace and provide a step-by-step guide on creating effective DEI goals. We will also share some examples of DEI goals for 2023 and how you can achieve them. We will also highlight the skills managers need to foster an inclusive team environment. 

Understanding DEI: An Overview

DEI goals drive meaningful change in the workplace by focusing on creating a fair and inclusive environment. These goals promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, essential for building a diverse and inclusive workforce. DEI initiatives help address unconscious bias and prejudice, fostering an environment where individuals are valued for their unique perspectives and experiences. 

DEI goals make your DEI initiatives even more impactful with the help of metrics to track and identify the most relevant and beneficial ideas for your team. Setting clear DEI goals helps by: 

  • Marking a visible commitment to DEI that goes beyond words. Transparency in such initiatives is vital to ensuring employee satisfaction, which is critical as more and more people choose workplaces that align with their values and act on them. 
  • Helping track the impact of initiatives. Identifying the relevant metrics and tracking performance across those can help managers secure buy-in from senior management and demonstrate exemplary practices externally. 
  • Guiding and directing the right practices at team and individual levels. Sometimes, individual contributors may not know how to foster DEI in their teams. In other instances, they might feel unguided and need clarification about the impact of DEI policies. Clear goals and performance tracking provide a path to clarity.
By setting meaningful goals, organizations can actively work towards creating an inclusive culture that values and respects individuals regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This approach benefits the employees and the organization as a whole. For example, the McDonald’s Canada board of directors set diversity goals to be achieved by October 2023, aiming to create a more diverse and inclusive organization.

Significance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity in the Workplace

  • A diverse workforce brings together individuals with different perspectives and experiences, enriching an organization’s collective knowledge and creativity. 
  • Equity ensures that all employees have equal opportunities for growth and advancement, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or other personal attributes. 
  • Inclusion fosters a sense of belonging and psychological safety, creating an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. 
These elements of diversity, equity, and inclusivity are lofty goals and essential components for building successful teams and organizations. In fact, research has shown that organizations prioritizing DEI goals are more likely to benefit in several ways from: 

  • Improved creative thinking and innovation 
  • Adopting a more inclusive perspective regarding consumers 
  • Higher employee satisfaction and a great employer brand that attracts talent 
  • Greater internal trust and sense of belongingness that makes employees stick – curtailing absenteeism and turnover 
Therefore, embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion is a great way to create a vibrant and inclusive work culture that sets organizations up for success.

Read more: Why is Diversity Important in the Workplace? 7 Reasons to Note

The Process of Creating Effective DEI Goals 

Identifying Your DEI “Why”

Before getting started, it’s essential to return to where you started. Think of the core values your team always returns to when there’s a challenge. Or, revisit the personal values that guide you through managerial conundrums. Your purpose with DEI goals is to enable the expression of these values for your team through everyday acts. The power of empathy that you learned from your first manager can guide your approach to dealing with difficult employees. The vision of creating a diverse team that values talent can navigate your hiring. Similarly, your values can form the keystones of the objectives you want to achieve with DEI initiatives.

Understanding the business case for DEI in your organization is crucial. Consider DEI initiatives’ potential benefits and impact, such as fostering a diverse workforce and meeting stakeholders’ needs. Reflect on your organization’s values, commitment to fairness, and the opportunity to create positive change through DEI. By identifying your DEI “why,” you lay the foundation for meaningful goals that align with your organization’s mission and values. 

Making Concrete DEI Goals

Setting specific and measurable diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals for your organization is essential to build an inclusive workplace. These goals should be aligned with your overall strategic objectives and reflect a commitment to diversity and representation. Incorporating terms like metrics and milestones can help ensure that your DEI goals are meaningful and measurable. When setting these goals, consider the representation of women, minorities, and underrepresented groups at all levels, including leadership positions. For instance, instead of “we will increase representation of women in leadership roles,” some better alternatives can be: 

  • Increase representation of women in leadership roles by X% in the next quarter. 
  • Enhance the presence of women in leadership roles up to X% in the next six months. 
Read more: Setting Smart Goals As A Team Manager (Examples & Tips)

Getting Leadership Buy-In for DEI Initiatives

The hard part of ensuring effective diversity policies is making them stick through hurdles from the managerial and financial sides. Ensuring buy-in and support from leadership is one such challenge. The key lies in communicating the benefits of such initiatives to relevant stakeholders on metrics they value, for instance, making a case for DEI by highlighting the better talent pool you attracted as a hiring manager.

You can demonstrate how these initiatives positively impact employee engagement and retention by sharing success stories and case studies of organizations that have embraced DEI. Additionally, emphasizing the potential for innovation and improved decision-making through diversity can further strengthen your case. 

Forming a DEI Committee

Establishing a dedicated DEI committee within your organization to drive and oversee DEI efforts is essential. This committee should include representatives from different departments and levels to ensure a diverse perspective. Providing training and resources to the committee members will help them effectively contribute to your DEI goals. Empowering the committee by giving them the authority to make decisions and implement initiatives is crucial. 

By forming a DEI committee, you can create a strong foundation for achieving meaningful diversity goals and building an inclusive and diverse workforce. This committee will play a crucial role in promoting a culture of inclusion and ensuring that DEI efforts are integrated into your organization’s operations.

Employee Feedback: A Crucial Step in DEI Goal Setting

Employee feedback is crucial in setting and achieving meaningful DEI goals within an organization. Managers can create a safe and inclusive environment for open discussions by seeking employee input and feedback on DEI matters. Managers can do this through: 

  • Surveys: Conduct team-wide surveys to discover your employee’s understanding of DEI. It can help you create an accurate picture of where you stand currently and help visualize the ways ahead. Surveys can also help you understand DEI practices that resonate the most with your team.
  • Focus groups: Focus groups help generate more detailed insights on DEI initiatives – how would the team like to shape them up, what are their opinions and preferences, etc.? 
  • One-on-one meetings: One on one meetings can be beneficial in engaging team managers and leaders who will act as change-makers. They are the best ways to nurture ideas for specific teams and functions while providing space for frank discussions. 
Additionally, employee resource groups can serve as a valuable source of feedback, providing unique perspectives and experiences. It is essential for leaders to actively listen to employee concerns and suggestions, as this feedback will help shape DEI goals and initiatives moving forward. By involving employees in the goal-setting process, organizations can ensure that their diversity goals align with the needs and aspirations of their diverse workforce. This participation creates a sense of belongingness and ownership that induces natural action toward the DEI goals you will set. 

Creating a DEI Goal-Setting Framework

Developing a structured framework for setting and implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals is essential in building inclusive workplaces. One key aspect is defining key DEI performance indicators (KPIs). By incorporating the SMART goal principles into the DEI goal-setting process, organizations can ensure that their goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Setting realistic and meaningful goals that promote inclusion and diversity within the workforce is essential. Regular review and tracking progress toward DEI goals are necessary to make adjustments and optimize efforts for a diverse and inclusive workplace. Essentially, the process of setting DEI goals should follow these steps: 

  • Assessment: Start by assessing the current state of DEI in your teams through surveys or other data collection methods. Meanwhile, learn about the industry-wide state of DEI as well. You can create DEI goals based on:
    • The benchmark standards are followed across the board. Remember that many organizations fail to embrace DEI, so it is a starting point at best for most industries.
    • The fundamental values that you want to see in action. 
    • The gaps you discovered regarding diversity, equity, and inclusivity across your teams. For instance, disproportionate representation, concentrated decision-making powers, and so on.
    • The ideas that matter to your employees. Focus on creating a comfortable workplace for all your employees.
  • Dialogue: Based on the first step, the DEI committee can set up broad goals and areas that need action for the entire organization. Communicating effectively with the stakeholders, including senior management and employees, is essential to ensure everyone understands and owns the exercise. 
  • Defining and Executing Goals: In the next step, the managers should communicate the DEI goals effectively across the board. Defining these initiatives’ various roles and responsibilities is essential at this point. Figure out what a manager needs to do, what a team member needs, and what general guidelines are for the entire team. Assign duties and actionable steps accordingly. Define performance metrics that you will track to assess the performance as well. Based on this, your team can spring into action. Throughout the process, ensure that the DEI committee or senior stakeholders are available to clear doubts and resolve possible queries. Moreover, there can also be some biased actions, conflicts, and disagreements! Be prepared to handle these difficult conversations swiftly.
  • Review, Feedback, and Revision: In the last step, managers must take over and track how well the mission went. Review your achievements on the metrics you had defined. For instance, a hiring manager can check about diversity in their talent pool – did it go up or down? Similarly, different departments can pool insights based on their specific areas. In totality, the DEI committee can generate a report listing the actions to achieve the DEI goals set for that period and mark each of them in terms of efficacy and success. Employees can pitch in to share their feedback and suggestions during this process. It allows for a comprehensive review and enables better practices for the next cycle.

DEI Goals for 2023: Examples and Inspiration

  • Microsoft: Software giant Microsoft has actively worked over the last decade to increase the representation of women in their teams, with women comprising above 30% of the total workforce now. 
  • Salesforce: Salesforce is known for its strong commitment to DEI. They have set goals to reach 50% gender equality in their workforce, increase underrepresented minority representation in leadership, and invest in programs to promote equality for all.
  • Meta: Meta has set specific DEI goals, including doubling the number of Black and Hispanic employees in the United States over the next five years. They also aim to increase diversity in leadership roles.
  • Starbucks: Starbucks has set DEI goals to increase diversity at all company levels, focusing on expanding opportunities for underrepresented groups, including racial and ethnic minorities.

Goal 1: Diverse Hiring and Representation

DEI goals related to hiring and representation can focus on enhancing the presence of underrepresented groups, such as women gender, and ethnic minorities, in the team. Further, it can include efforts to increase representation in specific areas, such as leadership and technical roles that men typically dominate. A few ways to do this include: 

  • Incorporate fair and unbiased hiring practices using tech and standardized methods. 
  • Prioritize talent and diverse candidates. 
  • Track progress by reporting on the diversity metrics for your organization across different levels and teams

Goal 2: Equity in Compensation and Advancement

Another typical issue of modern teams is unequal compensation structures rooted in biases and prejudices. Organizations can tackle this by creating fair and transparent pay structures for specific roles that do not differentiate between candidates. Creating parity across team members occupying similar positions and benchmarking with the industry is also essential. A few crucial steps in this include: 

  • Analyzing existing pay gaps in your team among the employees and concerning the industry 
  • Defining clear job roles and related fair pay rates 
  • Realign to overcome any deficits or gaps that specifically hinder underrepresented groups.

Goal 3: Inclusive Development Opportunities at Work 

Often, men are likely to take advantage of employee benefits and other development opportunities, while women and other groups stay silent. It highlights an important fact – development continues beyond creating opportunities. HR and L&D leaders must consciously ensure that the training and development initiatives are accessible and comfortable for all. It includes addressing systemic issues such as biases, microaggressions, and stereotypes that create invisible boundaries and reduce access to opportunities. Teams can do this by: 

  • Focusing on diversity training for their employees that highlights good behaviors 
  • Tracking participation rates to identify gaps and provide encouragement 
  • Listen to feedback and make changes accordingly. 

How to Achieve Your DEI Goals?

Monitoring, Evaluating, and Optimizing DEI Goals

Monitoring, evaluating, and optimizing DEI goals is essential to ensure the success of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Developing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) is a great way to measure progress towards meaningful goals. Regularly evaluating and analyzing data allows organizations to identify areas of improvement and success.

This can be done by gathering employee feedback through surveys and focus groups, which helps inform DEI initiatives. Based on the results of evaluations, strategies, and initiatives can be adjusted to drive positive change. Continuous optimization of DEI goals and design ensures that organizations stay aligned with their commitment to creating a diverse workforce and fostering an inclusive workplace culture.

Promoting Transparency in DEI Goal Progress

Promoting transparency in DEI goal progress is crucial for building inclusive workplaces. Communicating DEI goals and progress to all employees regularly ensures that everyone knows the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Sharing metrics and data related to DEI initiatives fosters transparency and provides evidence of achieving meaningful goals.

Utilizing dashboards or visual representations is a great way to provide easily accessible information on DEI progress, allowing employees to track the organization’s efforts. It is important to encourage open dialogue and employee feedback, creating a space for their voices to be heard and valued. Celebrating milestones and achievements in DEI goals inspires and motivates employees and reinforces the organization’s commitment to an inclusive and diverse workforce.

Going Beyond Words: Inclusive Work Practices 

To build inclusive workplaces, organizations must go beyond words and implement policies and practices supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion. A few areas where action can ensure adequate progress toward DEI goals include: 

Recruitment and Hiring:
  • Implement blind recruitment processes to reduce unconscious bias.
  • Establish partnerships with diverse talent pipelines and organizations.
  • Ensure various interview panels evaluate candidates fairly.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs):
  • Create and support ERGs for various affinity groups within the organization.
  • Encourage ERGs to collaborate on DEI initiatives and share insights with leadership.
Mentorship and Sponsorship Programs:
  •    Develop mentorship and sponsorship programs to help underrepresented employees advance their careers.
  •    Provide training to mentors and sponsors to ensure effectiveness.
  •    Provide leadership training that emphasizes inclusivity, empathy, and cultural competence.
  •    Hold leaders accountable for promoting an inclusive culture within their teams.
Employee Surveys and Feedback Mechanisms:
  •     Conduct regular surveys to gauge employee perceptions of DEI efforts.
  •     Use feedback to identify areas for improvement and track progress over time.
Supplier Diversity:
  • Diversify the supplier base by working with businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, and other underrepresented groups.
  • Set supplier diversity spending goals and track progress.
Promotion of Inclusive Content and Marketing:
  •     Ensure that marketing materials, advertisements, and products reflect diversity.
  •     Promote inclusivity in messaging and imagery.
Policies and Procedures:
  •   Review and update HR policies to remove any biases or barriers.
  •    Ensure that grievance and reporting procedures are accessible and supportive.
  •    Hold senior leadership accountable for meeting DEI goals.
  •     – Publish regular reports on DEI metrics, progress, and initiatives.
  •     – Share both successes and challenges transparently with employees and stakeholders.

What Skills Do Managers Need to Enable DEI on Teams?

A deep understanding of DEI principles and best practices is essential for managers to enable diversity, equity, and inclusion in their teams. They should foster open and inclusive communication, advocate for diversity in team operations, address unconscious bias, and provide mentorship and support to underrepresented employees. The critical skills needed to achieve DEI goals as a manager are: 

  • Empathy: Empathy enables managers to understand a situation from multiple points of view. It is the key to understanding the issues faced by your team before you head on to solve them. Connecting on a personal level and providing support as needed allows managers to create a relationship with their team and lead initiatives from the basis of this trust.
  • Cultural and Social Intelligence: Cultural intelligence refers to the ability of a manager to understand and communicate effectively through different cultures and practices. It is an essential skill to navigate a multi-cultural and diverse workplace. On the other hand, social intelligence is the ability to handle different social situations, such as conflicts, collaborations across teams, etc.
  • Collaboration and Confrontation: Leading the DEI initiatives for any team calls for collaboration across various stakeholders who will actively achieve those goals. On the other hand, as the process moves forward, you may need to confront individuals displaying biases and prejudices and address those issues on behalf of your team. Maintaining a balance across these two skills through effective communication and active listening is essential for any manager.
  • Critical Thinking: The field of DEI is evolving and adapting to new realities every day, making it crucial for managers to identify the proper practices and make effective decisions. Critical thinking enables managers to evaluate situations across the board thoroughly – be it an interpersonal issue in the team or a legal consideration on diversity matters – without being impacted by biases. Constantly analyzing conditions and actions is essential to the success of DEI initiatives.
  • Coaching and Growth Mindset: Lastly, a manager needs to work closely with the underrepresented groups and enable their growth. Developing and sharing a growth mindset is the first step in creating a long-term vision. Further, managers need coaching ability to help team members overcome challenges that are holding them back.
Risely, the AI co-pilot for leadership development can help managers and team leaders develop these critical leadership skills and overcome common team management challenges. It takes you through an empowering journey to help you become the manager you have always wanted to be! 

Take the first step with an assessment of your critical leadership skills today:  Leadership Skills Assessments


In conclusion, building inclusive workplaces and setting DEI goals is crucial for creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. Such environments foster innovation, creativity, and employee engagement, improving productivity and business performance. Managers play a vital role in fostering an inclusive environment and need empathy, active listening, and cultural competence. Ultimately, embracing DEI goals can benefit organizations by attracting top talent, improving employee morale, and enhancing their reputation in the market.

Your leadership ability enables strong DEI. Do not let ineffective habits get in the way.

Take the free leadership skill assessments from Risely to identify challenges and improve in critical areas like communication, collaboration, and more.

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