There are hundreds, if not thousands, of strategies to organize DEI efforts. Prior to my work with the Global Ties Network over the last two years, I developed a 7-part framework that was intended to position singular organizations for an evolving DEI framework journey.
7 Part DEI Framework
- Organizational Commitment to DEI Evolution
- Organizational Assessment and Analytics
- DEI Strategy Development
- DEI Education
- Change Implementation
- Post-Implementation Assessment
The Work and Learning are Never Done!
My work with GTUS, including my role as a CBM Board Member (Georgia Council for International Visitors) and speaking opportunities with various International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) groups on dismantling discrimination, has added a dimension to this framework. I mentioned that the “work” is never done. Neither is the learning! The first modification was the addition of “Accessibility” to the DEI focus, evolving the concentration to “DEIA”. Supplementing the original focus with an additional lens is not uncommon. We are currently working with clients who have added: “Belonging” (DEIB), “Justice” (DEIJ), and other variations. As DEI practitioners, each project on which we work is customized according to the client’s needs and includes a simultaneous combination of instruction and learning. Most importantly, the mutual exchange of perspectives helps to extend best practices in ways that no individual train of thought could ever hope to achieve.
Overcoming DEI and Accessibility Challenges in a Diverse Organizational Environment
The sustainability of DEI programs is predicated on tangible, long-term organizational culture and structural change… not a “feel-good” story devoid of analysis, goals, metrics, and structured implementation plans. Particularly, in environments such as the national network of Community Based Members (CBMs) and National Programming Agencies (NPAs) supported by GTUS, in which there are close to 100 geographically dispersed partnering organizations, there are just as many perspectives on DEI as there are member organizations. These partners vary by size, from small volunteer organizations to large organizations with paid staff; from newly incorporated groups to organizations that have been established for decades; and cover every corner of the country.
It is easy to understand that there will be wildly varying perspectives on the importance of DEI and the strategy to embrace it. Simply asked, how can we ensure consistency and sustainability if we don’t agree on the inputs? How do we identify target goals when member organizations are starting at dissimilar levels of DEI maturity, with distinctive capabilities, and varying levels of support or resources? Additionally, how do we account for geographic or cultural differences that may impact the degree to which DEI is considered a critical piece of an organization’s strategic plan?
Our solution was to be less prescriptive about specific changes within each organization and provide more guidance on three universal focus areas: “The Why”, “Organizational Change”, and “Programmatic Change”. We organized the work around three task forces that help the target organizations self-analyze and chart their own path forward. A description of each task force is shared below.
3 Universal Focus Areas
- The Why Task Force partners with organizations to retool descriptions (of their cities and work) to intentionally represent the true population and share authentic and inclusive histories.
- The Programmatic Change Task Force focuses on identifying ways in which exchange programs can be implemented through a DEIA lens. The Task Force has taken current NPA and CBM standard operating procedures and identified ways in which a more conscious approach to diversity can be implemented. The Task Force has collaborated and developed the IVLP Programmers Toolkit, designed to help Global Ties U.S. member organizations apply a DEIA lens to programming.
- The Organizational Change Task Force provides tools that help member organizations make their workplaces more welcoming of the diversity of people, ideas, and cultures that exist in our communities, better reflecting and living the values of their organizations. The task force created a matrix tool that allows each organization’s leadership to reflect, assess and act in three areas of focus: Board and Leadership Diversification; Recruitment Practices; and Inclusive Culture. The matrix is designed to be a useful and flexible tool to meet organizations where they are in these processes and determine where they want to go while offering examples and suggestions for actions to help achieve these goals.