At Norwest, an intentional commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is foundational to our team’s work. This belief is core to how we have operated for decades.
We hosted a fireside chat with JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Ambassador Constance Wilson, Global Head of BEDI. Constance shared how she developed the BEDI program at Udemy and what has helped her along the way
To help Norwest portfolio companies along in their DEI&B journey, we combined efforts with The People Collective, Growth by Design Talent, and Collective, to create a comprehensive Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging Toolkit. The toolkit is grouped into three sections:
- Where to Start
- DEI&B Strategy Framework
- Accountability, Goals, & Metrics
Today our portfolio companies can access our DEI&B Toolkit online. We have also open-sourced the resource library to the public. The main tenets of the toolkit are helpful to all no matter where they are in their journey. Let’s look at some of the common questions we heard today from the fireside chat.
DEI&B Strategy Framework: Where do I start?
Define what diversity means for your company, and then make sure everyone knows it. Go about it strategically, not performative. When creating your DEI&B strategy, identify your north star and purpose and ensure that your approach is multi-pronged and holistic by evaluating these 5 pillars:
- Product & Ecosystem
Ultimately, you want DEI&B to be embedded into the fabric of your business, not an add-on.
Attract: A clearly-defined recruiting strategy can help you operationalize, prioritize and measure the effort. We like to say that there are no silver bullets, but rather hundreds of lead ones. (See: Diversity Strategy Worksheet)
Select: A structured hiring process is one of the best ways to mitigate against bias in recruiting. It not only improves the quality of your hiring outcomes but also strengthens the integrity of your approach to promote fair, objective decision making. (See Guideline docs on the Resource Library.)
Retain: Creating a culture where all employees feel they belong and can do their best work will not only empower your entire team to perform to their full potential, but it will keep them engaged and result in retention of your highest performers. Ongoing engagement surveys are a great way to monitor perceptions of culture and provide useful insights into how different parts of the organization are feeling about their work environment.
Develop: Creating a culture of learning and development and investing in the development of your employees is important to your people and DEI&B strategy. Weave DEI&B into the training and development opportunities in your organization. Every stakeholder at your company, and particularly managers, needs to understand their role in creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture.
Product & Ecosystem: Depending on the nature of your business, there may be immediate and tangible opportunities to reduce bias and promote diversity and inclusion through your product. For example, Airbnb changed the way guest photos were revealed to hosts and moved it later into the booking journey. They also implemented a pledge requiring all users to commit to not discriminate. Gather ideas from the team, and particularly your engineering and product employees. It will energize employees to know that they are having a direct impact on your company’s DEI&B initiatives.
You want DEI&B to be embedded into the fabric of your business.
How Can We Measure Progress?
Merely having a DEI&B strategy or initiatives is not enough. You need to be able to show progress. What gets measured gets done—just as with any other corporate initiative, the success and impact of DEI&B initiatives requires measurable outcomes. From the beginning, set out goals and metrics for DEI&B initiatives. If you’re just getting started, launch a DEI&B survey before communicating a strategy to get a baseline you can track against.
Measuring diversity is about impacting the number of people in your organization who come from underrepresented backgrounds. Measuring inclusion is about your culture and work environment.
We’re a small company, how do we start DEI&B without hiring someone?
DEI is more than making a dedicated hire. Having everyone involved from the CEO down will help bring visibility and drive initiatives.
Constance recommends talking to employees to get their input on what they’d like to see from a DEI perspective. Hold trainings where all employees can simultaneously learn about DEI topics. Trainings can be something as simple taking a Udemy course together and reflecting on how to implement changes based on learnings.
When Constance first started at Udemy, she went on a listening tour. Taking 15-20 minutes to hear what is working, what is missing, and what is desired from employees.
How can we recruit for diversity, when we’re not diverse ourselves?
Constance recommends being transparent about your situation. Recognize the reality and state to your candidates what you’re trying to achieve. You want your recruiting to be balanced overall. (See sample recruiting and hiring metrics.)
DEI&B, BEDI, JEDI… regardless of your choice in terms—all efforts are dynamic and ever-evolving. Constance urged us to be strategic, not just performative. It goes beyond updating logos for a month, think about how you’re actually supporting your employees and customers? Do you have tangible actions in place?
Remember, it’s a collective responsibility within the entire company.
About Norwest’s DEI&B Toolkit
Who is the toolkit for?
Norwest portfolio CEOs/Founders, their People teams and anyone directly responsible for ensuring diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at their company.
We’ll be sharing relevant sections of the toolkit externally to create awareness, but the majority of the content will be exclusively for portfolio companies.
What are the benefits?
- Provides practical operational guidance on how to attract, select, retain, and develop a diverse and inclusive workforce.
- Helps companies create a place of belonging where people from all backgrounds feel welcome.