Creating a DEI Committee is an essential step in demonstrating your organization’s commitment to bringing forth and prioritizing changes related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In this three part series, we will be focusing on:
- 3 Steps to Forming an Effective DEI Steering Committee
- Sustaining Your Efforts
- Futureproofing the Work of Your DEI Steering Committee
However, a committee is not self-sustaining, and just forming one is not enough– the work must be nurtured over time. The work that a committee does must be viewed as a long-term, continual effort that is both strategic and vital to the future of your organization. To sustain your committee’s efforts for the long haul consider taking these actions:
Establish a Cadence and Agenda
In many organizations, there is a lot of initial fanfare and celebration once a committee or council is established. However, over time, committee meetings start to lose focus and/or eventually meetings completely drop off member’s schedules. To maximize impact and success, the work of a committee must go beyond the initial enthusiasm and celebration of setting up a committee. Additionally, it must be seen as more than just a one-and-done effort or another item to tick off on the quarterly checkbox.
While it sounds like a no-brainer, with so many business priorities and projects constantly competing for your attention, establishing a meeting cadence and having an agenda is a top priority to sustain the work of a committee. These simple yet effective actions set the tone that this initiative is important and a priority. They also serve to focus and position your committee to build and sustain momentum moving forward on the DEI front throughout its journey.
As your committee is initially forming, it’s often helpful to set aside at least one hour per week to meet to get set up and clear about your mission, norms and engagement strategies. Then, with time and as your mission, vision, and purpose become more clear, prepare to adapt your meeting cadence for longer or shorter timeframes as needed (i.e. every other week, monthly, or quarterly).
While every organization’s committee agenda will vary based on their unique purpose, focus, and organizational culture, some components that should be prioritized in your meeting agendas include:
|Welcome & Check-In|| |
|Executive Orders, Legal Developments, or Regulation Impacts|
|Planning, Actions, & Decisions|
|Feedback (Positive and Negative)|
|Reflections, Final Thought, Next Steps|
Create Focus, Scope, and Infrastructure
One of the most valuable things that your committee can do to ensure its success and sustain momentum over the long haul is to create focus, scope, and infrastructure that will support its success. Towards the beginning of your DEI Committee’s formation journey, you should decide on whether you want to be a strategic committee that focuses on organizational strategy and holds various functions accountable for achieving the organization’s wider DEI goals or whether you want to take on more of an advisory role by keeping executives abreast of DEI needs within the organization and providing advice on plans or efforts. Making that decision around focus and scope impacts how you committee functions and how it also interacts with and impacts the wider organization.
Once you’ve created a focus and a scope for your committee, it’s important to set up infrastructure that will support your efforts and enable successful, smooth, and efficient operations. Depending on your organizational culture and, possibly, industry, your committee may grapple with how much structure and formalization to add to your efforts and collaborative flow. At the very least, make sure you chat through basics such as those listed below:
- Logistical Considerations:
- Where will you house meeting minutes and notes? How will you ensure that they get updated with the most current information in the designated space?
- Who will send out calendar invites and/or updates?
- How will you communicate the committee’s accomplishments & progress to the wider organization?
- Who are the key departments or individuals that can help you craft the message, get the word out, and amplify it?
- Wider Committee Organization:
- Depending on your organization’s size and your committee’s focus, would it be beneficial to organize into subcommittees or specialized task forces?
- How will you share power around decision making as well as administrative tasks & responsibilities?
- What type of governance structure would be a good fit given your organization’s culture and your committee’s mission?
- Are there special roles and responsibilities that will make your committee more effective (i.e treasurer, chair, co-chair, etc.)?
- What are membership and tenure norms?
- Who are the departments or individuals that should be tapped to help you obtain key data points or information about the organization and help track or measure progress?
As your committee’s DEI journey continues, revisit these questions. Don’t be afraid to adjust or tweak based on your organization’s culture and shifts.
Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when Part 3 of this series is live. We’ll dive into how to begin to track support and measure the success of the efforts of the committee.