Top companies are talking about Diversity & Inclusion in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. But how do you implement a diversity and inclusion strategy?

Developing an effective strategy for managing diversity starts with a conversation and is followed by action. Here are 7 steps we found for implementing a diversity strategy for your organization.

The steps below assume that you’ve already dedicated a team member to own your D&I strategy. This would normally be either a head of diversity such as a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer (see The Top 20 Diversity Titles [with Descriptions] for examples of titles this person might hold).

If you’re not ready to have C-Suite head of diversity, some companies will start with dedicating a more junior role for diversity. Swisher International, for example, recently named an employee their Manager of Inclusion, Diversity & Transformation.

1. Do a full diversity audit

What is a diversity audit? A diversity audit includes looking at a company and its workforce as a whole and analyzing the percentage of underrepresented groups (like people of color and women). Diversity audits also look at the representation of diverse individuals in senior-level management positions or the board of directors.

Analyzing compensation for employees and reviewing company vendors are also important steps during a diversity audit. If there are salary gaps based on employees’ race or gender, this is important to note. And if there is little vendor diversity, this should be addressed in the corporate diversity strategy. Torin Ellis, a diversity strategist who has consulted with Nike recently told the Wall Street Journal:

“You have to really be able to look out over your organization and say: Where are we? Like, where are we really as a company?”.

Nike has been a champion for diversity of all types (race, gender, sexual orientation, age, etc.) and has won awards based on the foundation of a diversity audit:

SHRM said in a recent blog:

“Employers must first know what their workforce looks like compared with the labor market. By capturing data on employee demographics, an employer is better able to understand the diversity of its employees and identify any areas of concern or trends.”

This further solidifies the need to conduct a diversity audit as the first step in implementing an inclusion strategy. A diversity audit should including these items:

  • Collecting demographic data through traditional HR tools
  • Surveying employees regarding diversity & inclusion topics
  • Conducting personality tests of the workforce
  • Analyzing HR & survey data for trends
  • Identifying areas of concern

2. Release a diversity report

Part of the strategy for managing diversity includes being transparent. The next step after a diversity audit is to publicly release a diversity report with findings from the audit. A diversity report includes data on the number of women and people of color employed company-wide, including leadership roles.

Apple’s diversity report shows they are making progress:

Google’s 2020 diversity report shows a comparison of hires from last year based on race and gender:

A diversity report helps organizations create goals and targets to improve their diversity and inclusion strategy. The diversity report is the foundation and marker for improving diversity and setting inclusion strategy goals.

3. Commit to exact diversity goals/targets

After seeing the diversity numbers on paper (or on-screen) using those numbers to commit to diversity goals is the next step. We recently found some examples from top companies who have set diversity strategy goals and listed them in our article, 22 Examples of Awesome Diversity Goals.

Diversity goals should be both short and long term. Allow yourself ample time to improve. Gabrielle Shirdan, a VP/Creative Director at a NY-based advertising agency said in the Wall Street Journal:

“Everyone is trying to solve for years of systematic racism in a press release in four minutes.”

Setting goals with a reachable target is key. Google’s parent company Alphabet, Inc. is dedicated to increasing the proportion of “leadership representation of underrepresented groups” overall by 30% at the company by 2025. Setting a time frame keeps companies on track and accountable.

Some examples of diversity goals include:

  • Working with Black-owned businesses (AT&T)
  • Individual employees setting diversity goals (Expedia)
  • Increasing diversity in leadership (Facebook)
  • Creating an Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Board (GM)
  • Increasing bring from underrepresented communities (Intel)

Other diversity and inclusion goals include training for employees and executives to increase visibility and understanding of diverse colleagues. One program called CEO Action has 1,000+ CEOs and Presidents who have pledged to support a more inclusive workplace. Companies like Uber even incentivize leadership to be diverse. The Financial Times reported that Uber factors in diversity targets when bonuses are calculated for top executives.

Other companies tying diversity goals to bonuses according to Payscale:

  • Facebook
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Microsoft

Some companies also push for diversity in their partners/suppliers.

For example, at Microsoft, law firms can earn back 3% of their fees as a bonus if they hit diversity targets. Intel will hire only U.S. equity partnerships made up of at least 21% women and 10% underrepresented minorities.

4. Establish a Diversity & Inclusion Council

Bringing together a group of people who champion diversity within a company is another step towards implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy. Once goals and targets are set, a diversity board can work with senior management to keep diversity efforts on track. Antonio Neri, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise recently posted a blog about the creation of their diversity council. He said:

“We will launch a global HPE Inclusion and Diversity Council. The council will include team members from across our businesses and functions representing all facets of diversity, and I will chair this council. The council will oversee the development of a detailed plan and ensure we’re all collectively held accountable to meet our goals.”

A D&I council, not only keeps a company accountable for their diversity goals but also promotes the company’s diversity statement. We listed some top companies with strong diversity statements in our article, 10 Examples of Awesome Diversity Statements.

5. Dedicate funds to diversity-minded Employee Resource Groups

Another step towards creating a strategy for managing diversity is to dedicate funds to diversity-minded resource groups both internal and external. Employee resource groups (ERG’s) are able to bring in speakers to talk about important diversity and inclusion topics. S&P Global supports 9 ERG’s to support the acquisition, engagement, and development of diverse talent.

Google has 16 ERG’s with more than 250 chapters globally that support professional development opportunities for underrepresented communities.

Along with supporting employee internal employee resource groups, many top companies recently committed to investing sizable cash money in good D&I causes. Some examples of these diversity strategy goals are:

  • Adidas committing $120 million to causes related to ending racial injustice between now and 2025
  • Apple committed $100 million to the Racial Equity and Justice Initiative
  • Microsoft adding $150 million to its diversity and inclusion investment (the Microsoft diversity strategy also includes promoting cultural awareness through over 50 employee community groups)
  • Netflix putting 2% of its cash holdings, or up to $100 million initially, toward financial institutions and other groups that directly support Black communities in the U.S.

6. Standardize hiring

Establishing a diversity hiring strategy and standardizing the hiring process is a crucial step in creating a diverse and inclusive work environment. All candidates should be measured by the same scorecard and bias should be removed from all aspects of the hiring process to ensure candidates are on a level playing field. Our recent article on 5 Examples of Racial Bias in Hiring touches on this. here are a few ways to standardize hiring:

  • Removing unconscious bias from job descriptions (proud plug: Ongig’s Text Analyzer Tool can do this!)
  • Making decisions based on candidate’s qualifications, not their name, during screening.
  • Asking the same interview questions for all candidates, and hiring based on their answers, not their physical appearance or accent.

All 6 of these steps are important in implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy for your company. According to a report from McKinsey & Company, building a diverse workforce even gives companies an edge over competitors.

7. Review & share an update

Once a diversity and inclusion strategy has been implemented, it doesn’t mean that a company should stop there. D&I is an ever-changing space, so companies should stay active by continuously reviewing improving strategies. To do this companies should:

  • Compare diversity data pre and post strategy launch
  • Measure the results of diversity goals and targets
  • Keep the Diversity Council active
  • Look for new ERG’s based on hiring new underrepresented groups

On top of the items listed above, sharing results with the public whether it be through a blog or a formal diversity report on a company’s website, sharing growth and changes is important. Doing this will highlight improvements and also areas where changes in the right direction can still be made.

[D&I Strategy Tips Update September 1, 2020]

After I wrote this article, PwC came out with a great diversity report PDF in which they outlined the steps they took to implement a diversity and inclusion strategy. The report is chock full of ideas.

In one section, they share their steps to implement a D&I strategy and I thought I’d share it here:

  1. analyze the data
  2. identify root causes
  3. define our approach
  4. apply our values
  5. test and measure the rate of change
  6. hold ourselves accountable

Bonus tips for your diversity and inclusion strategy

Invest in internships for people of color

Ongig client Peak6 partners with the Greenwood project to create financial internships for people of color.

“Greenwood Project introduces Black and Latinx students to careers within the financial industry via paid summer internships, educational field trips and our summer financial institute for high school students. In many cases, our programming gives young people strong motivation to succeed in their remaining high school tenure and also a compelling reason to attend college.” (source:

The initiative is growing each year. More firms are coming on board leading to more opportunities for students of color to get involved.


Xbox Publishing is another organization that sponsors technology training for young people of color and from low-income backgrounds through a program called Gameheads.

Celebrate more holidays and events

Companies are adding special events around inclusion as a part of their diversity strategy. For example, Rogers Communications keeps an:

“open dialogue on racism at two events hosted by our Black Leadership Council, Rogers Mosaic, and Rogers Women of Colour.”

Rogers also celebrates Lunar New Year, Black History Month, and International Women’s Day with events and content across their various platforms to promote diversity.

How do you know if your D&I strategies are working?

You’ve implemented your D&I strategies in your company, but how do you know it’s working? Here are a few key performance indicators that’ll tell you how effective your strategies are.

  1. Recruitment figures. One of the easiest ways to measure your D&I strategies’ success is to look at the demographics of your applicants. Are you receiving applications from people from diverse backgrounds (race, gender, age, etc.), or are they heterogeneous?
  2. Percentage of leadership roles in diverse backgrounds. Another good indicator of D&I’s success is looking at the people in leadership positions. Are the people in leadership positions coming from diverse backgrounds? How long does it take for these people to get to their current positions?
  3. Employee Retention. A good indicator of D&I’s success is looking at how long people from diverse backgrounds stay. If these people remain in the company, they are happy and see opportunities in the company.


With Diversity and Inclusion in the spotlight employers need to optimize their diversity strategy. Ongig gives employers the ability to create landing pages/microsites and more diverse job descriptions with our Text Analyzer by eliminating bias of all kinds.


  1. Rachel Feintzeig’s article on Your Company Says Diversity Is a Higher Priority. Now What?
  2. Google’s 2020 Diversity Report 
  3. Apple’s Inclusion & Diversity Report
  4. Antonio Neri’s blog on Building a more equitable, inclusive world starts here
  5. S&P Global’s Diversity & Inclusion Page
  6. Google’s Diversity Commitments Page
  7. Microsoft’s Diversity & Inclusion Page
  8. McKinsey & Company’s report on Diversity wins: How inclusion matters
  9. SHRM’s blog on How to Develop a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative
  10. Shannon Bond’s article on Uber ties executive bonuses to diversity targets
  11. Payscale’s article on These Companies Are Tying Executive Bonuses To Diversity Goals
  12. Rogers Communications Reports First Quarter 2021 Results (by Street Insider)
  13. Xbox head of publishing says commitment to diversity will get them to 3 billion players (by Melindy Hetfeld)
  14. How to Measure Diversity in the Workplace (Coach Diversity Institute)
  15. 9 Ways to Measure the Success of Your DEI Strategy in 2023 (by Sharon Hurley Hall)

by in Diversity and Inclusion