How to Create & Implement DEI OKR Goals

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How to Create & Implement DEI OKR Goals

DEI OKRs can help you decide where to go and how to know you’ve reached your destination in your diversity, equity, and inclusion journey. You’re likely to be more successful with using objectives and key results methodogy to meet your de&i goals because it requires a company-wide effort. Teams and individuals are held accountable for planning and executing initiatives and measuring and tracking progress. 

What are DEI OKRs?
The benefits of DEI OKRs
How to create DEI OKRs
How to implement DEI OKRs
DE&I OKR examples

What are DEI OKRs?

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are a goal-setting framework to help your organization create and track goals. In this methodology, objectives are assigned with corresponding results to evaluate progress – making your objectives the ultimate goal in your daily work. 

You can formulate your Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Belonging OKRs using this statement: 

We will (DEIB objective) as measured by (specific key result). 

Setting objectives allows individuals and teams to align around the company’s DEIB goals. For example, your organization aims to increase the representation of diversity in the workforce by xx% in the next xx months. 

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Assigning key results to your objectives helps identify what works and is not. In the example above, your key results could be 

  • xx% increase in candidates from underrepresented backgrounds
  • xx% increase in women in leadership roles 
  • xx% increase from underrepresented groups in managerial positions
  • xx% increase in the overall diversity of the employee population 

After setting your DEI OKRs, it is vital to track your progress regularly (every quarter or 6 months) and conduct meetings to discuss if your strategies are good enough or if you need to change course. 

The benefits of DEI OKRs

1. OKRs provide a focused approach to DEIB

Having OKRs helps you reach your goals by specifying the tasks you need to do. The results matter more than anything else.

Begin by defining the direction for the whole organization. Then, have each team create their OKRs to align with the company’s overall goal. For example, if your company aims to have a more diverse workforce, the recruitment team’s goal should be to attract more candidates from underrepresented backgrounds

Set your DEI OKR goals every 3 months to deliver realistic outcomes. In this timeframe, you’ll learn which strategies are successful that you need to continue and which are ineffective and that you need to eliminate or improve. 

2. OKRs can drive improvement in equity

OKRs can improve your equity efforts in the organization, which leads to achieving other important business goals like higher employee engagement and retention

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Since you set your DEI OKRs every quarter, it creates a cumulative effect. So after 12 months (or 4 quarters of creating and fulfilling your equity goals), you’ll notice a higher level of equity in your workplace. As a result, employees will feel happier and more comfortable in their roles because everyone is treated fairly. 

OKRs make setting Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity and Belonging goals actionable. Begin by listening to what employees think and feel about equity in your organization. Conduct employee surveys, ERG groups, and one-on-one meetings to discover areas of improvement.

Ask questions like: 

  • Do you think everyone receives fair treatment in the company? 
  • Do managers offer equal opportunities to employees of all different backgrounds? 

Then, select one item and set an OKR based on priorities and available resources. Assign an individual that will oversee this OKR and have them report weekly updates. 

3. OKRs create alignment 

To ensure the success of your DEIB strategies, it’s vital that teams are aligned, so everyone moves in a unified direction. Alignment is critical to the company’s growth and efficiency. 

However, each team should approach the overall company objective from a team-specific function, expertise, and perspective, which the Key Results measure. So if the organization’s overarching goal is to increase diversity, several teams could contribute to reaching this objective: 

  • Recruiting team: Design the career website to be attractive to candidates from underrepresented backgrounds by writing inclusive job descriptions, ingrain DEI in your employer branding 
  • Learning and development team: Design and implement training opportunities to develop knowledge and skills on DEIB. 
  • Marketing team: Build a diverse team, immersion with the local community and different cultures, and focus on tone of voice to create a sense of belonging. 
  • Customer support: Create a diverse customer service team, and equip your customer service staff with cultural-specific knowledge and listening skills to serve better customers of different backgrounds.

4. OKRs provide transparency across the business

Transparency is achieved when you have the OKR process in place. Organizations also prevent duplicated efforts by making sure that everyone has visibility on what everyone is doing. 

With OKR, you can communicate your objectives for the next quarter to ensure everyone understands and agrees. You can discuss the DEIB challenges the organization faces,  what DEIB areas need to improve, and the strategies to implement. During discussions, encourage all employees to contribute their ideas to create an environment of effective communication among departments and individuals. 

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When there is transparency, operations run more smoothly because everyone knows what’s happening. Frequent check-ins can boost productivity and engagement. Since everybody is aware of each other’s accomplishments, it fosters a sense of urgency and competition among employees and teams to achieve their individual and collective goals. 

How to create DEI OKRs

  1. Know your company’s current DEIB standing: To craft your goals, you must first determine your company’s current diversity, equity, and inclusivity state.  Ask employees if they believe their employer provides a safe and inclusive workplace. You can also gather information by speaking to specific groups, like having focus group discussions about pay gaps among managers from underrepresented groups. Or one-on-one meetings with female employees to discuss career advancement opportunities.  
  2. Understand your DEIB goals: Next, engage with stakeholders and ask them why the company needs to pursue a particular DEIB objective and what they expect. Get their definition of what success looks like once the goal is reached. It can be tempting to follow what other firms are doing. However, each company is unique so craft your DEIB goals based on your company’s needs and resources. 
  3. Bridge the gap: By collecting all the data about the current and the ideal DEIB state, you can formulate your company’s overarching DEIB objective and key results. Keep in mind to always align your objectives with the company’s critical goals like improved productivity or business growth. 
  4. Make it a collective effort: Once you have clarified the company’s main DEI OKR to all employees, break it into actionable team and individual OKRs. OKRs are a shared responsibility, so each team member should have input – fostering a sense of ownership and accountability. Call a team meeting to brainstorm and finetune team OKRs for the quarter. Don’t forget to have one-on-one meetings with team members to discuss individual OKRs contributing to the team’s OKRs. 

How to implement DEI OKRs

How To Implement DEI OKRs

1. Get management buy-in

Implementing your DEI OKRs requires commitment from top executives. They have the authority to make decisions that affect the whole organization. 

To get management buy-in, show senior leaders how investing in DEIB positively impacts overall business goals. Promote the benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusivity in the workplace, like improved employee engagement and retention. And once you convince them of the positive effects of DEIB, present the resources required to actualize these goals. Use your gap analysis data to specify the resources: finances, tools, and people. 

Without the support and approval from the management, your DEIB goals are bound to fail. 

2. Set 2-3 key results and 5-7 objectives

Create 5-7 objectives with 3-5 key results for each OKR period. This is a realistic target to keep the team focused without feeling overwhelmed. 

For instance, your DEIB objective is to increase the diversity of race and gender across departments and at all levels of the organization.  

Your key results could be:  

  • Recruiters and hiring managers are trained in diversity recruiting. 
  • Identified missing or specific groups, from entry-level to leadership positions.
  • At least one applicant from an under-represented group is in final consideration for all senior and executive leadership positions.

Setting this OKR process aids managers in channeling resources and priorities to areas that have the potential to make the biggest impact on business objectives. 

3. Plan your initiatives

Initiatives are the activities, projects, or processes that you need to do in order to drive advancements in your key results. 

Bringing the objective of increasing diversity in the workforce, here are suggested initiatives you can implement: 

  • Initiate learning programs and workshops to educate all employees about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging
  • Implement inclusivity hiring tactics
  • Review salaries and standardize pay across the organization.

Keep in mind that your initiatives can change throughout the cycle depending on how well they deliver the targeted outcomes, so its important to find the balance between sticking with the plan but also being flexible to change things up if there are no developments. 

4. Start small

Implementing OKRs can be difficult, especially for the first time. To avoid overwhelm and making costly mistakes, start small. Conducting a pilot test allows you to test different methods, figure out what is effective and ineffective, spot vulnerabilities, resolve them, and build best practices for full implementation. 

Continuing with our increased workforce diversity objective, you can pilot test tweaking job descriptions to be more inclusive or participating in diversity job fairs. 

Gradually implement your OKR by creating a framework: set a timeframe (ideally 6 weeks) and choose how you’ll track and grade your development throughout this cycle. Test one to three OKRs for the pilot. During the pilot run, schedule weekly 30-minute meetings to review updates and address issues. 

5. Track and reward progress

Monitor your progress with regular check-ins to ensure you’re on the right track.  Arrange weekly or bi-monthly meetings to review individual and team OKRs. And schedule town hall meetings to discuss organizational ORKs every quarter. During these meetings, discuss what you’re doing well and plan on solutions or new approaches if current strategies were ineffective.

Recognize accomplishments with simple rewards or kudos. Or consider merit increases or even a promotion for achievements that have a huge positive effect on the whole organization. 

6. Measure the impact of your goals 

Of course, you won’t be able to know the impact of your goals unless you measure them. A very simple way to evaluate your impact is to use the ‘So what?’ test: 

  • Write inclusive job descriptions. So what? 
  • What impact do we expect from these JDs? Attract candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. So what? 
  • Why do we need candidates from historically underrepresented groups? Have a diverse workforce. So what? 
  • What’s the benefit of diversity in the workplace? Enhanced creativity. So what? 

A positive employer reputation > Good reputation and more creativity boost a company’s productivity > Productivity equals sales and profit. 

7. Revisit and adjust 

Revisiting OKRs during the cycle allows you to adjust your strategies based on your target results and timeframe. It lets you know if you are moving towards your target. Or if your chosen strategy isn’t helping to reach your goals. 

For example, if your DEIB objective for the next quarter is to hire 10 female managers, but in the 2nd month, you only have scheduled 5 job interviews, maybe you have to step back and consider hiring 5 instead. 

DE&I OKR examples

Here are diversity and inclusion goal examples to inspire you to create your own OKRs: 

Example 1

Objective: Employees feel fairly compensated and empowered by what your organization pays

Key Results: 

  • After conducting a pay audit, xx% of employees agree that men and women who do similar work should receive the same pay 
  • xx% of employees agree that promotion rates, raise frequencies, and bonuses are based on performance, not on background (gender, race) 
  • xx% of employees agree that there shouldn’t be underpaid high performers and overpaid low performers

Example 2

Objective: Employees experience equitable career advancement opportunities.

Key Results: 

  • Employees were provided with the same learning and development opportunities. 
  • Employees feel that performance reviews are fair
  • Employees are supported in their career development

Example 3

Objective: xx% of candidates from underrepresented groups are interviewed and hired 

Key Results: 

  • Recruiters received an xx% surge of applications from job seekers from different backgrounds 
  • There is an xx% increase in the number of diverse applicants interviewed 
  • There is an xx% increase in the number of applicants given the job offer belonging to the underrepresented group. 

Example 4

Objective: Employees experience an inclusive workplace culture – employees feel a sense of belonging and being valued 

Key Results: 

  • People with disabilities have access to a safe and comfortable working environment – accessible toilets, bathrooms, and parking spots; modifying work spaces to include special equipment and should be wheelchair-accessible
  • Employees are given the opportunity to ‘choose their benefits’ – floating holidays, parental leaves, gender-affirming health benefits (gender reassignment surgery, hormone replacement therapy)
  • Establish of a non-discrimination policy that reflects your company’s commitment to treating everyone equally. 

Key takeaways

When creating a Create Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity and Belonging OKR Goals, remember to: 

  • Know your current DEIB standing and understand your DEIB goals 
  • Get the management buy-in, so you receive the resources and support you need 
  • Set 2 -3 key results and 5-7 objectives for each OKR period 
  • Plan your initiatives, but pilot test them first 
  • Track your progress and measure the impact of your goals 
  • Reward and recognize progress 
  • Revisit and adjust your OKRs based on target results and timeframe.
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