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  • Writer's pictureTrish Driver

5 Questions to Ask When Setting Targets

Setting Diversity & Inclusion targets? Here are five questions to ask your business before you start.

I spent today with our partners at Gattaca hosting a roundtable with NATS (National Air Traffic Control Services) talking all things inclusion. We covered some really interesting topics, including engaging leadership, data collation and recruitment best practice. But what’s prompted this blog is a conversation at the end of the session about how to set targets for diversity and inclusion…

This definitely isn’t a simple topic, but we think that a good starting point is to ask your business these five key questions before you start:

1. What’s the context? Our view is that targets are absolutely pointless unless they form part of a significantly bigger picture. Your people should really understand your wider vision and purpose for your D&I strategy, and you should be prepared to have conversations about how this fits in. None of this should come as a surprise to people, because we’d recommend that you shouldn’t be setting targets until you REALLY know where you are and what needs to change (and we’re not just talking demographics here – we’re talking about the experience of your people as well -see our previous blog on data).

2. Why are you setting these targets? See above! You need to be really clear about what you’re hoping to achieve through setting these targets. We’re pretty convinced that what doesn’t get measured doesn’t change, so you need to be clear about why this is important, and who is responsible. We’re seeing an increasing number of clients getting really focussed on responsibility for targets by setting firm objectives for leaders which are equally weighted with their revenue targets. Now that’s motivating!

3. How realistic are the targets you’re setting? It never ceases to amaze us that businesses are still pulling numbers out of the air when it comes to targets around the demographic makeup of their business. We’d always recommend that you work through historical and current data to understand what the targets you’re putting in place will need to mean in terms of actual numbers. For example – if your business’s demographics are currently 25% female, and you decide you want to get to 45% in the next five years, you’re going to need a really good idea of what that looks like in terms of attrition, retention and recruitment. And we’re talking REAL specifics. If you’re going to need to retain your entire female workforce AND hire 482 new women and only five men to meet your target, is that realistic?

4. How will you make the change happen? You need a clear and specific plan of action to get where you want to, and (spoiler alert!) you will need to change the ways you’re doing things now. We’ve seen clients make real progress by changing the way they work with their suppliers, really scrutinising their recruitment process, and educating their hiring managers really well on unconscious bias.

5. How are you going to track your progress? And we do mean progress – not just a panic when your business reaches the arbitrary date where you’ve decided to set that target. It’s noticeable that the clients who really make strides with this are the ones who make a commitment to check in every month on their progress and really understand where the interventions are and aren’t working. This has to focus on recruitment, retention and attrition, so be sure that you’re keeping tabs on all these areas.

Ultimately, targets are a great way to move your business forward, and they will work – as long as you really think through how they fit in the wider context of your business, how you engage your people, and how you’ll get to where you want to be. We work with clients across multiple sectors on just these kinds of questions, and you can see more about the work we do on the case studies section of our website. Or, if you want to have a chat, why not get in touch with us –


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