The 5 E’s

5Es of Diversity Performance

Creating an inclusive culture where employees are encouraged to contribute is how innovative organisations are achieving success.

But do you know what you have to do to enable that inclusive culture and how it can be achieved?

In today’s world it is more important than ever to not only have equality and diversity in the workplace but to be inclusive.

Inclusivity is key and yields many benefits including greater productivity, improved financial outcomes and quality relations with customers. There needs to be new approaches and different ways of working from a diversity perspective to allow this to happen.

Engaged employees that have a voice accelerate inclusivity and achievements across the enterprise.

There is an opportunity for organisations to explore and address these challenges with our 5Es of Diversity Performance – Evaluate, Explore, Establish, Execute, Engage.

It is a mistake to think that Diversity and Inclusion is a finite programme. Many organisations fail with their diversity agenda as they consider it to be a defined programme with a fixed ending. But in reality, it is an iterative activity, with continuous learnings and improvements, adding in new initiatives and growing as an organisation.



What is the Evaluate step?

Like any business activity an organisation needs to understand how it is performing from an equality, diversity and inclusion perspective. Without understanding the starting position, it is not possible to achieve diversity yet alone enable an inclusive organisation.

To do this the company needs to assess its equality, diversity and inclusion performance across the enterprise and align it with the organisational strategy whilst setting targets and building metrics.

There are several different areas that can, and should, be evaluated to enable an organisation to understand and take appropriate action. These should not be limited to characteristics protected under a legal framework as authentic diversity and inclusion is achieved through different constituent parts. Check out our Healthcheck Diagnostic for more information.

Performing an assessment internally can be accomplished but frequently there will be blind-spots and group think that inhibit true understanding. However performing an evaluation properly with external support will yield illuminating results and provide the springboard to take the next steps.

Businesses that monitor their performance will undertake this Evaluate step on a regular basis and use the results and metrics to continue to grow.



The Explore step is where an organisation has Evaluated its status and now seeks to reflect on the findings, deciding what actions they need to take.

Using the data from the evaluate stage will provide lots of quality information, that when analysed, will reveal challenges, risks, gaps, opportunities and action areas.

Exploring the data gives a base position from which to start. Interspersed with some critical thinking and questioning will lead to a strategy and enable planning of a programme of initiatives.

Understanding both the requirements / objectives of the business and the needs of people working on diversity activities is important to have a balanced and realistic approach.

Questions to consider include:

        1. How the people / diversity strategy is / isn’t aligned to the business strategy and goals
        2. What is the culture, employee empowerment and engagement, and customer and supplier relationship(s) and how this ties in with diversity
        3. What does the organisation need to start / stop / continue from a diversity perspective
        4. What diversity initiatives are required to become an inclusive organisation
        5. Who will be accountable and lead this for the organisation
        6. Why is the organisation doing this – what are the desired benefits and outcomes



Establishing initiatives and activities to build a diverse and inclusive workplace should be the simplest step. However, if it were that easy then all organisations would be doing it.

Organisations that have followed the first 2 steps will be positioned to know what they need to do. They will have rich data from the Evaluate activity with valuable information and metrics which have helped to Explore learnings and identify areas to address.

The Establish step is where companies should build a programme of initiatives, typically a 3–5 year plan aligned to the strategy.

This is where project management capabilities come into play. Aligned to the strategy, key areas to address can be prioritised and initiatives determined. Either a top down approach by leadership or a bottom up approach by employees. Better yet, do both to make sure the right initiatives are identified, prioritised and resourced.

During the Establish activity the programme is the WHAT, which means the organisation needs to consider:

WHY are they doing these initiatives and engage relevant stakeholders

WHO is involved, who is the accountable sponsor and who will help manage / deliver the programme.

WHERE will it be managed and what are the reporting mechanisms

WHEN relates to the timeframe, and

HOW is how it will be delivered.


Delivery of a programme aligned to the strategy and being able to measure progress and outcomes is key. It needs expertise to have the diversity knowledge plus capability to plan and deliver a initiatives.  This is where inclusion specialists with programme management experience can help to focus and support execution.



Executing on strategy and a D&I programme should have all stakeholders engaged to ensure success. All parties need to be involved to deliver the initiatives, and those not involved in the delivery should be there to support the resources and ensure success.

A stakeholder matrix should be developed as this will ensure all interested parties are identified and people know their roles / responsibilities. It can also be used to understand when and how they are communicated to by the team.

A detailed plan for the initiatives programme is required so that resources (including people) can be made available at the right time. The programme needs a defined structure and right size governance to support delivery and remove obstacles.

Additionally, it is key to track initiatives like any other programme and ensure good project management disciplines are implemented to oversee spend, timescales, and quality using appropriate indicators, risk and issue management, budget control and reporting.

It shouldn’t be bureaucratic and inflexible, in fact agile approaches are good in this environment.

However, sponsors and leadership teams should recognise that frequently people do this in addition to their day job. We call this ‘side of desk’ activity. It requires proactive support to enable this to happen and reward people. Let’s remember success encourages participation and engagement.



The final E in 5Es of Diversity Performance is Engage.

When it comes to engaging with stakeholders it is important to understand their preferred methods of communication and what resonates with them.

With a Diversity programme this is no different. In many ways it is more pertinent to avoid alienating people on sensitive issues.

A stakeholder matrix helps with this activity. Remember, a stakeholder may be part of the delivery team, sponsor or executive. They may be a (potential) candidate, an employee, customer, or they could be supplier looking at communications as a person accountable, or they could be someone impacted, a supporter or just a recipient.

They will likely look at engagement from a “What’s in it for me?” perspective. So, it needs to be right!

That is why engagement mode, approach and style of communication is critical. It needs to land correctly. Poor engagement will result in failure of diversity initiatives and inhibit success.

Also think about style e.g. is it more textual than graphical – what grabs people’s attention? How is their brain wired to receive communications?

Is it quantitative or qualitative data?

Is the intent to provide status reporting, be informational or seek a response / action from the recipient?

Quality engagement creates a good environment and a sense of accomplishment.

Engagement must also include reporting and metrics to key stakeholder. There needs to be data collation reflecting on findings to allow a loop back into the Evaluate Step.


Follow our 5 steps for success. Developing a feedback loop and continually iterating will result in visible successes for all and encourage further engagement and achievement.