When founding a DEI Council, one of the most integral elements to discuss is the creation of a charter. This document will help guide the group’s meetings, decisions, and initiatives from its conception throughout its future work. A successful DEI Charter interweaves several elements, including a strong mission statement, related goals, leadership assignments, and membership requirements. Through this article, I share the benefits of designing and implementing a charter and breakdown the central tenets of this initiative.
- One of the first things a DEI Council should consider is its mission statement. This set of phrases lays the foundation for all initiatives to come. When dividing the mission statement, consider incorporating key language from the organization’s DEI strategy as well as the central mission of the company itself. Through this piece, we establish the sentiments which will underscore all future efforts of the DEI Council. First, evaluate the general values and goals of the group and devise language that encompasses these ideas into a defined and uniting statement. The following stages of the DEI charter will fall into place under this guiding light.
- After a strong and clear mission statement has been established, begin listing understandable and achievable goals for the council. Consider employing SMART goals or objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. This step ensures that future initiatives will align with the organization’s mission and create measurable positive change. Attempt to break down larger goals, like increasing the culture of inclusion in the company, into achievable objectives. These smaller and more manageable programs and initiatives will help the council efficiently dedicate their time and resources to achieving their monumental milestones. With the combination of workable projects and affiliated goals, the charter defines the DEI Council’s critical responsibilities and emphasizes positive progress.
- Another important aspect of a DEI Council is leadership. In the charter, make sure to include a clear definition of these positions with detailed descriptions of roles and responsibilities. These statements will establish and support the backbone of leadership for the group. While in this section, give some thought to the technicalities of term lengths, elections processes, and committees. I strongly recommend including smaller leadership opportunities to encourage members to develop their communication and interpersonal skills. Additionally, these roles will allow current chairs and officers to recognize and groom organizational talent for upcoming leadership positions. By determining these aspects of the council early on, future transfers of power and leadership changes will progress more smoothly.
- The DEI Council charter should establish the central tenets and responsibilities for members. These are enthusiastic about increasing diversity within the organization but may not have the time necessary to serve as council leadership. Similar to the previous section, consider the election of members into the council, expected contributions, and their term lengths — should these be longer, shorter, or the same as leadership term lengths? The answer to these questions revolves around your company’s ideals, employee availability, and DEI strategy. Lastly, establish membership diversity as an integral aspect of the DEI Council. At all times, the council should accurately represent the employee base that they serve. This means a diverse demographic foundation with contributions from different races, genders, generations, and even departments. By integrating these tenants into the DEI Council charter, we ensure that members will remain committed, passionate, and dedicated to elevating diversity and inclusion within the workplace.
While founding a DEI Council may be daunting, creating a solid charter will provide organizational leadership and future council members with the necessary guidance to enact change and positive progress. Upon establishing the council, set a preliminary meeting aside to either discuss or draft the charter together. Through this act, we gain the support and involvement of employees and move towards a greater understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Dima Ghawi is the founder of a global talent development company. Her mission is providing guidance to business executives to develop diversity, equity and inclusion strategies and to implement a multi-year plan for advancing quality leaders from within their organization. Through keynote speeches, training programs and executive coaching, Dima has empowered thousands of professionals across the globe to expand their leadership potential. For more information, visit DimaGhawi.com and BreakingVases.com.