DEI Organizational Structure

It’s easy for organizations to talk about the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). But beyond important and inspiring positioning, what’s happening in practice? In today’s episode, Kaleidoscope Group Consultant Michael A. Washington joins hosts Reggie and Kat to talk about the importance of developing organizational policies, practices, and procedures that are aligned with DEI objectives and goals. This is a powerful conversation on connecting the dots between intention, action, and impact. 

Organizational Drivers

Washington talks in-depth about the role policies, practices, and procedures play in driving organizational DEI, he went on to explain five areas that he focuses on in his work, including fundamental HR policies like recruitment, development, performance advancement, and ability to track employee lifecycles. Generally speaking, DEI doesn’t drive HR policies, but DEI does need to be interwoven into policies, according to Kat. Policy is a framing of HR principles, practices are how those policies are applied or effectuated. Washington argues that policies inform practices. Procedures are how policies are executed in a documented form. 


One interesting point made by Kat was the role of HR in managing DEI and building organizational culture.  Many companies miss the opportunity to align policies and practices with DEI priorities and employee communications. All three need to “sing together” to win hearts and minds rather than just the promotion of compliance—which led to a brief discussion of the so-called “Rooney Rule.” The Rooney Rule was established by the NFL in 2003 and stipulated that all 32 clubs must interview at least two women and/or persons of color when seeking to fill prominent positions in order to comply with the policy. However, in practice, the Rooney Rule has had a limited impact on diversity within the NFL at the management and coaching levels. 

Forward Thinking

So how does this all relate to ‘becoming inclusive?” To explain this, Washington talked about performance reviews and how they have changed over the years to reflect more diverse input from different people within the organization. In the not too distant past, only manager perspectives were considered. Today forward-thinking companies have expanded the process to be more inclusive—gaining 360-degree perspectives on the performance of a specific employee. 

In summarizing his comments, Washington says he wants to see DEI as part of a systemic framework entailing policies, practices, and procedures. A systems approach will result in more cooperation, collaboration, and innovation. And it all is moot if there’s no real commitment or consistency in the three “P” review process.