Creating Accountability Structures at Point B: A Closer Look

We spelled out 6 tiers for each of our company’s core skill areas – people, methods, DEI, change and communications, data, digital, and growth. For instance, people managers are expected to operate at a level 4 across all sub-skills.  

  1. People: Teaming, Feedback, Developing Others
  2. Methods: Operations, Project Leadership, Business Acumen, Business Analysis 
  3. DEI: Cultural Intelligence, Collaborative Advocacy, Driving Equitable Outcomes 
  4. Change & Comms: Facilitation, Presentation, Storytelling, Communication, Change Management
  5. Data: Data Visualization, Data Analysis
  6. Digital: Digital Dexterity
  7. Growth: Growth Mindset, Ownership

How Do We Develop These Skills Areas?

Our approach to learning is constantly evolving. Currently, it includes small group case studies, self-service resources, and people manager tools. For instance, through our people manager DEI training, we’re starting to understand how leaders assess their own gaps and building a plan to lean into the most relevant topics. We recently piloted a human-centered design workshop with our leaders that helped us understand how we’ve been conditioned to gender-code certain leadership traits and how each of us can show up authentically as a leader.

Approaching DEI skill development this way increases awareness and builds the case for change. It also creates opportunities for growth – employees who actively use and grow their DEI skills are well-poised for professional advancement. Your employees’ demonstration of DEI should be both self-assessed and validated through peer feedback in the performance management cycle. The same is true for hiring new staff. If your hiring manager notices a gap in your team’s DEI skills, certain candidates may stand out because they bring a DEI skillset the team is lacking.

Overcoming Challenges

For organizations looking to implement DEI leadership skills, having the right resources to develop, deliver, and evolve training is an ongoing constraint. Here are a few ways to overcome this hurdle:

  • Adopt an interdisciplinary approach. This can help you balance the development of new offerings with the routine training  delivery for current and future leaders. This meant engaging our DEI Director, ERG Leaders, Executive Talent Director, and Learning and Development team. 
  • Make sure annual planning and budgeting is a joint exercise. This will help ensure that leadership curriculum includes DEI components.
  • Involve your DEI team in the assessment of enterprise-wide investments in resources like external learning platforms. This has resulted in increased capacity to meet personalized learning needs and an expanded DEI training repertoire.

Building shared commitment and resourcing also allows you to test and learn. When it comes to curriculum and program development, challenge yourself to let go of getting it perfect at first. In a hybrid environment, exercises that work well in person might not have the same impact virtually. Measuring the effectiveness and engagement of our training after each session has provided insight into how we can refine our approach moving forward.

Another challenge is keeping a leader’s attention on any one initiative. Inclusive leadership skills, even when fully embraced, are competing with other needs like personnel management, strategic initiatives, and day-to-day fire drills. Continue to play with formats that maximize impact and minimize a leader’s effort to access learning. 

Next Steps

After you’ve defined and created accountability around DEI skills, your next step is to baseline where your leaders and company land. As you offer more focused learning opportunities, you’ll see demonstrable progress. For leaders who are expected to operate at the highest proficiency level, progress shows up as sustained performance that can be validated through quantitative team member feedback. 

Your leaders should also be learning from non-leaders. Inviting team members to provide leaders with feedback and opportunities for growth not only uncovers blind spots but also energizes employees and creates trust. As a people-oriented company, we’ve found that sometimes it’s uncomfortable for our employees to challenge each other on inclusive behaviors. This is an opportunity for us all to develop our feedback skills.

Finally, keep the momentum going on change management work. Your company’s communications and mobility patterns should show how DEI skills accelerate paths to leadership. Remember, your program risks credibility when rewards (like promotions) are given to those who aren’t demonstrating DEI skills.

Leaders have the privilege and responsibility to create experiences of belonging for their employees. By establishing standards of leadership now, you’ll shape how future leaders prioritize their own development and demonstrate DEI skills before they’re in a formal leadership role. Inclusive leadership skills are an investment that can deliver both short and long-term value. We look forward to continuing this process and hope the lessons we shared from our own journey provide inspiration for yours.


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