Business leadership discussing their diversity and inclusion plan at a conference table.
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In 2017, when hurricane Harvey laid waste to much of the Texas coast and devastated swaths of Houston, Texas-based grocery chain H.E.B. was running disaster relief stations, mobilizing its extensive supply chain and funneling resources to those in need – right alongside the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Why was a grocery chain running emergency logistics operations, you might ask? The answer isn’t as illogical as it seems. Dig a little into H.E.B.’s corporate culture and you’ll find the grocer’s deep dedication to its local community . . . and an equally dedicated customer base.

The lesson here is that planning and preparedness isn’t just important for business continuity in times of trouble – it’s preparedness that makes it possible for an organization to serve its own community, lead during difficult times, and most importantly, build the kind of loyalty and dedication that lifts everyone up.

Other kinds of plans – such as a diversity and inclusion plan – are just as vital for the same reason. If you don’t already have one, or you do, but it’s not being effectively implemented, now is the time to assess how a diversity plan can serve your organization, serve your community and make you a talent magnet for years to come.

A good diversity and inclusion plan accomplishes five objectives:

1) It attracts talent.

Implementing a diversity and inclusion plan is good for building a strong team. A plan ensures that you’re not just paying lip service to your hiring goals, it actively helps you get and retain the most diverse and talented group of employees.

2) It establishes clear goals.

Good intentions aren’t enough to create diversity. A well thought out inclusion plan sets a clear vision for where you want your organization to be, and the steps it will take to get there. No matter how your plan is written, make sure both diversity and inclusion are addressed. Diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance!

3) It sends a message.

Do you want your people and your customers to know that diversity is a major goal of your organization? Don’t tell them, use an effective plan to show them. Having a well-implemented diversity plan sends a message to people inside and outside of your organization – that you are committed to creating diversity.

4) It promotes a creative atmosphere.

The success of any business depends on the level of creativity in its internal culture. And creativity depends on the comfort level your employees have in their own ability to express their thoughts, ideas, and solutions. A culture of diversity gives employees confidence that they can share ideas and have conversations without minimizing their own cultural context.

5) It sets the tone.

From a legal standpoint, a good diversity and inclusion plan helps your organization identify and resolve any potential issues faster and more transparently. If there are complaints, a good plan will lay out the framework for addressing them . . . or eliminate the problems that lead to complaints altogether, before they occur.

Conclusion

Once a good plan is in place, you’ll see these five things start to happen. Often, the value of the planning process itself is to break down outdated policies and processes that don’t promote growth and can reveal new goals and opportunities. After all, if effective planning can turn a grocery chain into a disaster first response leader, who knows what a good diversity and inclusion plan can do?

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