Engagement surveys and existing inclusion and diversity (I&D) data told our client they needed to do more to address I&D — especially in hiring, engaging, and developing employees. Many employees felt frustrated with the efforts to date, and more importantly, felt alone.
In conjunction with inclusion and diversity consulting group Forshay, we worked with them to support their employees to design and pilot interventions for their workforce representation targets. The goal was to increase representation of several identity groups, change hiring practices to be more inclusive, and create programs to support management and employees in creating a more inclusive and diverse culture.
Armed with human-centered design and the foundational concepts of diversity and inclusion, the idea was for participants to create their own solutions. In the process, we hoped the workshops would help them find collaborators with whom to develop and test ideas and bring them to life.
How We Did It
We designed a nine-month innovation accelerator to lead six internal teams. Throughout the accelerator, we taught them a set of mindsets and moves we call “Innovation-ish.” We paired innovation pros from People Rocket with I&D scientists from Forshay to serve as coaches to give critical guidance to teams at key moments in the process.
As with any of our client engagements, the first step was to define and scope the problem. Only once we defined the problem did we begin brainstorming and prototyping new ideas. But these ideas weren’t drawn from opinions and personal preferences — we make decisions based on evidence, data, and the results seen from testing the prototypes.
Coming up with and testing ideas is useless if they don’t go anywhere. Buy-in from collaborators and decision makers was critical to the success of these efforts and teams were responsible for presenting their ideas to C-level leadership.
Prototyping initiatives in the working groups was an easy way to test and iterate, devising the best solutions by and for those they hoped to serve. By the end, the teams presented a range of tested ideas to leadership, including an I&D hiring checklist for all hiring managers and an internal Linkedin.
Together, we created a Workday-like platform that centralized development resources and would match people to opportunities. The program culminated in presentations to leadership that sponsored the innovation effort. There was strong leadership approval and the work inspired several new initiatives and changed the I&D conversation across the whole organization. The pandemic hit halfway through our engagement, forcing us to move from an in-person workshop to a virtual setting. Because our work is grounded in our core pedagogy, the quick transition in method of delivery was no foe. Synchronous or asynchronous. Live or not. We can deliver regardless of the medium. All it requires is a little adaptation.