As nonprofit organizations recover from the pandemic, one prominent issue that is getting renewed focus is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Fostering and modeling these three values not only promote positive workplace experiences and opportunities, they also further the productive relationships and goodwill that advance nonprofit missions.
Incorporating DEI into everyday practices takes deliberate effort and planning. Working DEI into overall organizational strategy is a way to ensure that DEI issues are addressed in all decisions — and goal setting is a great place to start.
Start with SMART
At this point, most organizational leaders are aware of SMART goals. This standard for goal setting means that for goals to be effective, they need to be:
Specific: Each goal should include details about who, what, why, and how it will be accomplished. By making goals specific, everyone knows exactly what is expected.
Measurable: Maybe you have heard the saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Measurability is key. Make sure you can measure progress toward your goal, whether it is a dollar figure, a percentage change, or a certain number of volunteers, donors, or event participants. Measurability also lets you set small goals that lead to attaining a large goal, which can help keep morale and enthusiasm high.
Attainable: There is no sense in setting goals so lofty that they are impossible to reach. When goals are difficult but attainable, your team will make real progress and continue to be motivated.
Relevant: Choose goals that matter to the success of the organization and your employees and that inspire your colleagues. Goals that result in meaningful change will garner the support necessary to see them through to completion.
Time-bound: Schedules and deadlines create a sense of urgency and help motivate people to reach their goals. When you set a firm start date, target end date, and interim progress check-in dates, you create accountability.
Add the “IE”
SMART goals drive results. Adding the “I” and the “E” ensure that your goals also stimulate the changes that DEI initiatives are meant to encourage. This moves DEI from aspirational to actionable and becomes part of your mission.
Inclusive: The idea is to bring traditionally marginalized or excluded people and groups into processes, activities, and decision-making in ways that share power.
Equitable: Adding an element of fairness or justice can help address systemic issues of injustice, inequity, or oppression.
For those accustomed to the SMART paradigm, it takes some practice to incorporate the “I” and “E.” But here is a way to think about it: Who should be involved in accomplishing this goal so that the outcome is influenced in a meaningful way?
For example, if you have a hiring goal, consider adding a diversity component to identify candidates of color or from diverse backgrounds. This might be accomplished by using new recruiting methods or partners or by including a deliberately diverse team to craft job descriptions or conduct interviews. You do not want token participation; you want influence.
If you have a goal that involves community building, consider adding success criteria requiring that the effort results in representation. This includes race, age, gender, and so on. Inclusivity and equity are made tangible when these types of requirements are engineered into organizational goals.
How Are You Doing?
Delivering on DEI is a long-term challenge, but including inclusivity and equitability into your goal setting firmly establishes these values in your organization’s strategic DNA. Over time, setting SMARTIE goals becomes second nature, and the results will shape the future of your organization.
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