Best Practices

Diversity & Inclusion Councils and Budgets (Updated for 2020)

November 2020

In order to support numerous functions company wide and aid the organization in revenue generation, the diversity and inclusion office must first have a budget large enough to allow it to perform its functions fully and at top quality.

This report provides information on D&I budgets and a range of tips and strategies related to establishing effective D&I teams and councils.

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) structures and resource allocations are as varied as the myriad of corporations and institutions they are meant to support. Organizations reassess the reporting structure, allocation of resources and scope of influence of the CDO and the diversity office across the organization periodically for effectiveness and efficiency.

In order to support numerous functions company wide and aid the organization in revenue generation, the diversity and inclusion office must first have a budget large enough to allow it to perform its functions fully and at top quality. At some companies, diversity and inclusion is housed under Human Resources. At others, the diversity and inclusion function has its own office and a Chief Diversity Officer who reports directly to the CEO.

Given these variables, budgets for D&I vary widely across industries and regions and also depend on the responsibilities that fall within the function at large or shared in other business units and roles. Most importantly, companies must assess D&I responsibilities and desired outcomes for their own unique organization and determine appropriate budget and staffing needs from there.

This report provides information on D&I budgets and a range of tips and strategies related to establishing effective D&I teams and councils.

D&I Councils: One Size Does Not Fit All

D&I Councils come in many forms and have a variety of structures and names. For the most part, there are two basic types:

Executive diversity councils, usually led by the chairman, CEO or chief diversity officer, are made up of senior vice presidents, vice presidents, business-unit heads or other high-level leaders from all of the key company’s business functions or core businesses. This council develops the comprehensive, integrated diversity strategy that drives company best practices, goals and objectives, and monitors
the company’s progress against those goals and objectives.

Advisory or regional diversity councils are designed to provide greater representation of the diversity of a company’s workforce, are often larger than executive diversity councils. An organization may create several such councils to represent multiple business units, locations, or operational components. These councils implement the diversity strategy and policies established by the executive council. They are also responsible for advising company leadership on the company’s diversity and inclusion needs and the progress of diversity initiatives throughout the organization.

Characteristics of Effective Councils

• Support—and direct involvement—of senior leaders
• Council goals drive the business strategy
• Diverse membership
• Metrics to track progress
• Clearly communicated goals and outcomes
• A long-term strategy that drives short-term initiatives and activities

D&I Council Responsibilities

• Assist the CEO/CDO in creation of the D&I strategy and key milestones
• Embed the diversity and inclusion function across the enterprise with strong connections to business units and operational divisions
• Clearly delineate diversity roles and responsibilities and provide for ongoing assessment to ensure effectiveness
• Broadly build and share knowledge on D&I successes and impact—build the case for D&I
• Work with Learning department to identify specific D&I education content to be included in employee training and professional development
• Identify D&I barriers that impact recruitment, retention and advancement, recruitment, training, and key assignments
• Develop strategies to eliminate bias in all aspects of the talent process including recruiting, hiring, development and advancement
• Create content and custom D&I messages for the Communications team to deliver to leadership, middle managers, and the general employee population
• Act as change agents for the organization—challenge the status quo—champion D&I and promote the company as an employer of choice

Building an Effective D&I Council

Support From the Top Is Critical

Senior leadership support is vital for diversity council success; without it, councils are unlikely to achieve their goals. Engagement of senior management—ideally the CEO—is necessary if councils are to fulfill their mandate. Senior leaders play a critical role in providing direction to the council’s mission, strategy, and deliverables, and ensuring the necessary resources are available to drive real change.

Link to Business Strategy

Diversity councils are a critical driver of organizational change, establishing a dedicated focus on diversity and inclusion priorities, managing the D&I program, and connecting D&I activities to a broader business-driven, results-oriented strategy. The Council works closely with senior leaders to ensure tight alignment with the company’s mission, operations, strategies, and business objectives. The D&I Council is responsible for measurable results, provides governance and oversight on diversity efforts, and promotes company-wide communication on objectives and progress.

ERG Oversight and Direction

The D&I Council provides support and guidance for employee resource groups (ERGs) and helps ensure that all ERGs are a catalyst for fostering a diverse and inclusive environment and connects D&I and ERGs to the business.

A D&I Council can support ERGs in the following ways:
• Provide assistance to managers and employees that want to start an ERG
• Provide oversight, strategic guidance and direction to the ERG Executive Sponsor, Chair, and Committee Chairs
• Allocate and monitor ERG budget expenditures
• Share industry research along with internal and external best practices
• Assist ERGs with developing a consistent strategy
• Drive awareness and education of ERGs

Importance of Diverse Representation

A diversity council’s members should mirror the diversity in the organization. Councils should be composed of individuals of different genders, generations, departments, and/or other dimensions of diversity.

Many diversity councils are designed to address gaps in representation or inclusion for specific demographic groups, including women, racially/ethnically diverse individuals, and people with disabilities.

Other councils address diversity and inclusion more broadly and consider every member to represent some aspect of diversity: dimensions may include organizational role or level, educational background, communication or management style, geographic location, and demographic group.

Leaders of employee resource groups may also be part of the council. Councils can also include individuals with diversity expertise who do not work for the organization; these outsiders can provide expertise or offer a customer’s perspective.

Example: Stated Commitment to D&I

At xxx, we recognize and appreciate the importance of creating an environment in which all employees feel valued, included, and empowered to do their best work and bring great ideas to the table. We recognize that each employee’s unique experiences, perspectives, and viewpoints add value to our ability to create and deliver the best possible service, technical assistance, and research to clients and partners.

Given that our individual social, economic, and cultural identities shape and influence our experiences and perspectives, it stands to reason that xxx will do its best work by ensuring diversity in our workforce across the various
dimensions of social and cultural identity and by practicing inclusivity in how we work with one another.

The mission of the D&I Council will be to foster an environment that attracts the best talent, values diversity of life experiences and perspectives, and encourages innovation in pursuit of mission.

Using available research and data on effective diversity and inclusion practices, the D&I Council’s efforts will focus on the following objectives.
• Building capacity and competency to lead and manage a diverse workforce
• Creating a work environment that ensures equal access to opportunities for professional growth and advancement
• Developing cultural competence and responsiveness, as an organization, to maximize our effectiveness in project engagements with clients and partners, considering and respecting their unique perspectives, experiences, and

Our diversity and inclusion objectives, and progress toward achieving them, will be assessed annually to ensure alignment with strategic business objectives.

Example: Clearly Stated Responsibilities

The xxx D&I Council will have the following responsibilities.
• Conduct a scan of the literature to identify D&I best practices supported by research
• Create opportunities for employees to provide feedback to executive staff about organizational climate and culture (i.e. climate assessments, anonymous satisfaction surveys, focus group sessions, etc.)
• Create opportunities for employees to have meaningful engagement with leadership to promote cultural inclusivity and discuss issues relating to equity in the workplace
• Provide feedback and insight to executive staff on issues of culture, climate, equity, inclusion, and diversity in the workplace, including recommendations and support regarding short- and long-term strategies to meet the organization’s current and future workforce needs (i.e. unbiased recruitment, hiring and retention practices)
• Formulate recommendations for the development or modification of policies and practices that negatively impact diversity, inclusivity, and equity efforts
• Create internal organizational learning opportunities in which employees may voluntarily participate and engage to deepen and develop personal understanding of inclusion and equity at an organizational level
• Identify opportunities for the organization to engage with its broader communities to promote equity, social justice, and inclusion (i.e. community volunteer activities, corporate social responsibility initiatives, etc.)
• Serve as a D&I communications vehicle to senior management as well as across the organization by helping to develop the tone of internal messaging
• Conduct a self-assessment of Council effectiveness during the current fiscal year that describes accomplishments relative to developed goals and chartered responsibilities, challenges and barriers encountered during the period, and recommendations for solutions.

Example: Leadership, Membership & Reporting Lines

The D&I Council will have two co-chairs and report to the xxx executive team (i.e. including the CEO, CHRO, CDO). Co-chairs will be responsible for meeting scheduling and preparation, meeting facilitation, follow-up on action items, communication and messaging, liaising with the executive team, etc.

A member of xxx’s senior management team will be appointed as the Council’s sponsor. The sponsor will support the Council by providing guidance to the co-chairs; serving as the link between the co-chairs and senior management; acting as an arbitrator and making decisions that may be beyond the authority of the cochairs and Council members; and supporting co-chairs in presentation of recommendations to the executive team.

Members will be selected by the co-chairs from among employees who express interest in participation and who have approval from their supervisor after review of current workload and consideration of any other factors such as alignment with individual professional development plans. In general, committee membership
should reflect a diverse mix of employees, taking into consideration factors such as race/ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, etc. In addition, members should reflect different business areas of the organization.

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