Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

By Leah Smiley, CDE
Diversity and inclusion can be an area in your organization that under-performs or obtains mixed results. For better outcomes, try these three solutions:


1.  Define the scope of your organization’s vision for diversity. The topic “diversity” encompasses a broad area. Try defining why diversity is important for your organization. Is there a need to increase cultural competency to adjust to changing customer/student/constituent demographics? Is there a need to expand international knowledge of different groups for global operations? Or is your organization competitively positioning itself for long-term growth? If you have a vision, it’s easier to develop a plan.


2.  Create and/or review your diversity plan. First, let’s talk about what a diversity plan is not.  It is not an Affirmative Action plan. It is not a schedule of events and activities. And it is not a one-time process.


Your diversity and inclusion plan should serve as an ongoing road map for success. Diversity plan goals must be linked to specific business objectives, otherwise the interventions will serve no organizational value. Additionally, the plan should be realistic. If you have a plan, and none of the goals have been accomplished in 7 years, it’s time to re-do the plan. Some items will be long-term, but other efforts should be actionable now.


3.  Build a team of diversity leaders. Many organizations leave complete responsibility for diversity and inclusion with their Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). The problem is that there is so much growth in the field of diversity, that there is a lot of turnover right now. And when the CDO leaves, diversity efforts stall indefinitely.


A solution to this problem is building a strong team. You can have a rotating diversity position among senior managers, a diversity council, or a committee for diversity on your Board of Directors. With more diversity leaders, you can have sustainability, and diversity of thought.


But don’t let your team wing it; get them trained. Diversity management is an invaluable leadership skill. Consider sending your team through the Institute for Diversity Certification. We offer a business management program that ensures better results. For more information about upcoming classes, log onto
Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity, the #1 professional association for diversity and inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto 

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