Case Study I
Minnesota Department of Transportation
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) had done limited E&I work including a few training programs and recruitment events. They had no dedicated staff for E&I but had formed a Diversity Council made up of employees from throughout the organization that had a passion for E&I work, but no experience or understanding of the practice. They wanted a strategy that they could implement based on their needs.
It was for this situation that deepSEE created the Learn/Act approach in 2007. Since then we have modified and enhanced the process which we outline below in the Methods and Timeline section. We designed the process to not only conduct the needs assessment and develop the strategy, but also to develop internal capacity to lead the work once the strategy was in place.
We worked with the Diversity Council in a six-month process with one session each month often with homework to complete in between sessions. Each session spent the morning educating the group on the topic (history and definitions of E&I, 13 areas of E&I best practice, etc.) or needs assessment content. Then the afternoon was a facilitated process to guide the group to create the content for the strategy.
The resulting strategy, we had to admit, was a better product than had we created it on our own as we had created every previous strategy because this included their internal expertise of the organization along with our external subject-matter expertise. Even more important, because we developed the capacity of the E&I Council, they were better able to lay the foundation for what they have today: 5 dedicated staff, an Executive Inclusion Council, 6 Employee Resource Groups and their third comprehensive strategy. In addition, they are seen as a leader in E&I work in both their local market as well as nationally within their industry.
Case Study II
As an international development organization, Chemonics International is very diverse, yet that diversity is isolated at the lower level of the organization. Despite their efforts to address the challenge, progress remained allusive. They expressed a need to better understand the situation and a palpable desire to get traction and make progress with a targeted E&I strategy.
While the Learn/Act approach was appealing to them from the perspective of capacity building, there were two factors that made that approach difficult. First was a very short timeline and second was the reality that the intense workload of staff wouldn’t allow for time to commit to that process.
For this reason, we initiated the Conventional approach (outlined in the Methods and Timeline section below). The needs assessment included an analysis of organizational data, numerous focus groups in multiple languages, an online survey for all employees, the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI which is a competency assessment we describe in the Methods and Timeline section below) and stakeholder interviews. Based on that assessment, we created a report with recommendations for next steps with a straw framework strategy.
We were able to identify developmental and systemic issues that contributed to their lack of diversity in leadership. Our recommendations addressed those systemic issues to give them sustainable long-term traction. We also identified immediate actions that they could implement to signal intent to the organization and make visible short-term gains. While we completed this process only a few months ago, they have already implemented a number of the short-term strategies with significant impact on the organization.
Case Study III
Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District
With a majority white male workforce in a community with growing diversity, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) knew that it needed to address the issue of a lack of diversity but didn’t want to do that with scattered activities. Instead, they wanted to do be planful and ensure those activities were tied together to create greater leverage. They also wanted that plan to be based on a thorough analysis of their needs and be doable for an HR department of one. While they wanted to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and strategy development process, they had very limited funds to do so.
deepSEE created a modified Learn/Act process to work with their newly-formed Diversity Council. With a stripped-down budget and only two days to work with the group, we eliminated significant portions of the needs assessment process leaving only the IDI assessment and relying on the group’s knowledge of the organization.
In those two days we were able to educate the group on the basics of the E&I practice, help them understand the stages of development, their organization’s stage and the implications as well as an understanding of the 13 areas of E&I best practice. With this knowledge we worked through a facilitated process to identify the most significant needs, brainstorm strategies within the areas of best practice and prioritize them into a three-year plan.