Across nearly all of my consulting engagements regarding D&I strategy formulation, there is one recurring flaw that holds back otherwise well-designed and well-resourced diversity and inclusion programs; lack of (or misplaced) accountability.

Like any other business strategy, diversity and inclusion efforts will not succeed unless they are business-led. Accountability for D&I must lie with business leaders. This is plainly evident and supported by research, but engagement after engagement, I review pages and pages of diversity and inclusion policies and procedures that read well on paper but stall on execution because ownership for implementation lies with human resources or employee groups (and sometimes communications, marketing, or sustainability) or no one at all.

This does not suggest that leaders are the only members of an organisation with diversity and inclusion accountability. Everyone in an organisation has a role to play in diversity and inclusion, but success ultimately depends on leadership accountability. Leaders are supported by a team of business partners with accountability to deliver functional expertise and support to the business that enables leaders to achieve their D&I goals.

If your D&I results are underwhelming despite significant effort and investment, it’s likely that responsibilities and accountabilities for D&I are not well-defined or are misplaced. Below is a framework that can help you to reset your efforts for success. Remember that an accountability framework will only succeed when responsibilities are operationalised as KPIs, individual performance against KPIs is tracked, and remuneration and rewards are linked to performance.

Best Practice D&I Accountability Framework

  • Diversity & Inclusion Committee: Senior executives who own the D&I strategy and oversee its successful implementation
  • ELT Champions: Senior executives who actively champion D&I, sit on the D&I Committee, and sponsor employee networks
  • Diversity & Inclusion Councils: Leaders within their respective functions and geographies who provide input into strategy and drive D&I outcomes
  • People Leaders: Accountability for D&I outcomes for their teams
  • Employees: Accountability for contributing to the cultivation of an inclusive workplace
  • Diversity and Inclusion Lead: Subject matter expert who develops D&I metrics, targets, surveys, programs, tools and resources in partnership with the business and provides strategic guidance
  • Employee Resource Groups: Voluntary, employee-led groups with shared identities, affinities, and experiences that provide input into strategy and help drive D&I outcomes
  • Talent Acquisition: Responsible for implementing inclusive and objective recruitment and selection practices that support the achievement of D&I goals
  • Human Resources: Responsible for tracking and analysing D&I metrics, implementing inclusive and objective talent management practices that support D&I goals, and supporting the D&I Lead
  • Corporate Communications: Responsible for inclusive communications, D&I reporting, inclusive corporate branding, and partnering with the D&I Lead in learning and development
  • Product and Services Development: Responsible for understanding and responding to the needs and preferences of diverse consumer segments in product and service development and delivery
  • Marketing and Customer Service: Responsible for understanding and responding to the needs, motivations and sensitivities of diverse consumer segments in marketing and customer service
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: Responsible for aligning the organisation’s community initiatives with the entity’s diversity and inclusion goals
  • Procurement: Responsible for implementing a diverse supplier policy that aligns with the entity’s diversity and inclusion goals

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