written by
Michele Heyward

Creating Your DEI Goals For 2021 & Beyond. . .

DiversityandInclusion 5 min read
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) goals aren’t must-haves! They are table stakes today. Employees are done with just the diversity and inclusion promises. They now want to see the change happen that you are responsible for.

What DEI means for your company can be a hard task to understand. Creating goals in line with the real idea of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can be even more difficult. When we talk about working on specific DEI goals, they encompass a lot of things. From demographic to gender balance, from ethnicity to racial stats, DEI can sometimes mean a complete overhaul of company culture, workplace values, or hiring & retention practices, etc.

Not having goals because of the complexity of their nature should not be an excuse. DEI goals give your company a common aim to work toward. But remember that diversity or inclusion cannot always be measured in a similar way as your sales or revenue targets.

“DEI goals are a lot more about creating a culture of belonging. They are more about creating a company that is geared toward listening than shutting the conversations down. A company that just doesn’t talk about diversity & inclusion but it walks the talk.”

Here are some steps through which you can create your DEI goals that are practical and in-line with your company requirements:


Even before you start working on the goals or their implementation, you must examine your motives and the inspiration behind them. It is a mandatory step. If you want to implement DEI goals just because they are trending in the corporate world, or because you don’t want to have any scandals associated with your company – know that these aren’t suitable reasons. Diversity isn’t some kind of a box that you check-off and you are done. If you do not have aspiration or diligence associated with its execution, you will not be able to create sustainable goals.

For the most part, you should know that your WHY must go beyond the general idea of social justice or an increase in shareholder values. You must have a reason that is specific enough to connect all these dots with the DEI efforts that relate to your company’s vision and mission. All companies are different so their goals should be different as well. It all boils down to why DEI is required in your organization - what’s the need, how you can fulfill it, and what are the benefits. Once you answer all these questions, you are sure to have a basic sketch of your DEI goals.


The next step in your DEI goal-setting process will be to identify the major areas you need to work on. These points will be derived from the core of your WHY? And what’s better than taking a collaborative approach and asking your employees because they will be affected the most by it? The idea behind creating a collaborative process is that when you have an entire company involved, you won’t have representation issues. We are sure, the women or people of color aren’t in equilibrium with the male counterparts, hence the need for DEI initiatives.

For this purpose, you need to do company-wide focus group discussions, surveys, and data tracking. Ask questions related to diversity, ask your employees if they feel the organization is inclusive, talk about pay and gender equity, etc. Your employees are the ones that should drive the main goals of your DEI strategies and practices. So, it is only fair that they should be the ones who share what needs to be done as well.


Know that your goals should not only be focusing on recruitment. DEI is more about hiring based on diversity quotas. If you are doing this, you will only be throwing money down the drain. Because hiring will not work if you are not retaining diverse employees. You need to invest in equity and inclusion as well. Do not let these arbitrary quotas stop you from setting meaningful pay equity and inclusion goals. Take the results from your surveys and focus on the concerns your employees voiced. Based on those results, focus on creating goals that will help you achieve them.

Some sample goals every company can benefit from will include training on biases, launching ERGs with executive sponsors, decreasing pay disparities, and introducing inclusive job descriptions, etc. Remember that you do not necessarily have to tie a number with every goal you set at this stage. Meaningful goals, and not arbitrary quotas, cause a real impact. You need to work on that.


Just as you would set deadlines for anything else in your business, set deadlines for DEI commitments and goals as well. Start with goals that have faster turnaround times and later move on to the bigger ones with slower progression and results. When you work on goals that have an impact within a defined amount of time, you will get buy-in and increased support from employees and the management.

When you have set the basic goals, spread them companywide. This way, you and the team will be held accountable for making them happen. It will also give your employees a chance to lend help and weigh in on the result. For diversity goals, you should have a set deadline – i.e. having 50% more women in the product development team by the end of the year. This way, if you do not reach the goal by the required time, you can reflect and assess what went wrong. Know that these goals are not about quantity but quality. But you still must set deadlines for each goal, so you can hold yourself accountable if the need be.

“Your Diversity, Equity, and inclusion goals should be more go than just a front or display you put up! Your goals should hinge upon your effort to have a diverse company with an inclusive culture that builds upon all levels of equity required among employees. Having an inclusive foundation will help you hire & build a diverse team and retain them through equity. Hence, DEI goals are the secret ingredient for your company’s success.”

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