The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.
When it comes to corporate diversity, equity and inclusion, the one-size-fits all approach has never worked -- a fact that’s specially true when we examine it on a global scale. After three-plus years of DE&I being a priority for many companies, we’re at an inflection point where, due to global economic uncertainty, many are reevaluating their DE&I practices.
Perhaps, as a DE&I practitioner, I’m biased, but to me a time of uncertainty signals the need to double-down on DE&I and provides an opportunity to hone your strategy. By doing so, companies can support talent attraction and retention as well as create a competitive edge and ensure their programs and processes are part of an organization’s global success. So, what does integrated DE&I look like across the world? Can a DE&I practice truly be global?
I think it can be -- but, to date, that’s not been done well by most organizations. How can global DE&I leaders help their organizations move the needle further and faster, all while ensuring that what they build truly impacts equity for their global talent in a lasting way? Here are some considerations.
Context and culture are critical. While biases, discrimination, and inequality exist everywhere, their expression is contextual and often linked to culture. If you’re U.S.-based, systemic racism and anti-LGBTQ+ issues are at the forefront of today’s DE&I discourse.
In Germany and India, much of the focus centers around gender inequity. In the U.K., inequities related to socioeconomic and immigrant status influence programming, process and communications, and there is a stronger focus on the disability and neuro-diverse communities, as well as sustainability, than I’ve seen elsewhere around the world.
What we implement must have a tailored lens, focusing on narratives and solutions representative of local contexts.
You’re likely a Jack of All Trades, Master of None -- and that’s okay! DE&I is unlike any discipline I’ve ever been a part of, since it requires its practitioners to have working knowledge of every facet of an organization’s business. But it’s truly impossible to know all the nuances of those various departments – which is why it’s important for DE&I leaders to forge strong relationships with their counterparts – especially around the world.
No matter the scale or scope of your DE&I initiative, it’s critical to operate through that partnership lens with your global colleagues, like people, legal and leadership teams, amongst others. This way, you can better uncover blind spots and can ask – and be asked – tough questions about rolling initiatives out in markets outside of your own. While taking this step no doubt adds time and legwork upfront, it’ll make your life easier down the road when it’s time to bring global offices on board with your plans.
Starting small is still a start. With foundational relationships in play and an understanding of regional nuances to consider, it’ll be much easier to evaluate your roadmap and see which activations might work in your global offices. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a monumental project. Small changes are still changes, and it’s most important to do something well, that will change things for the better.
Wherever you’re at in your global DE&I journey, focus on the areas that can create and promote equity – no matter what that means per region. I know there is no precedent for the complexity of this role – and no exact science on how to get something so ever-evolving right 100% of the time. But I don’t think we’re meant to be perfect, as the beauty is in the growth.